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British Writer-director Andrew Haigh has made four feature films — Greek Pete, Weekend, 45 Years, and Lean on Pete — and the superlative HBO series Looking (Seventh Row contributor Brandon Nowalk’s recaps at the AV Club are essential reading).
Here you’ll find an index of all of our articles and podcasts about the films of Andrew Haigh.
About Andrew Haigh’s films
Haigh’s films are all single-protagonist stories, told from the lead character’s subjective perspective. His films tend to explore intimacy and identity, romantic relationships and home. “If you’re just watching a frame with two people,” Haigh told Seventh Row Editor-in-Chief Alex Heeney, “it allows you to see someone talking and seeing the effect that’s having on the other person — seeing the emotional changes in front of your eyes, rather than seeing it within an edit, like forcing that emotional change.”
He has a knack for directing precisely blocked scenes — “blocking is everything” — in long takes, preferring to cut as little as possible, which results in an extremely arduous but rewarding editing process. “I think my blocking is probably the most specific thing I do, Haigh told us. “Because I’m not cutting, the blocking becomes so important. If you don’t block it right, you’re going to miss someone or not see someone.” Because Haigh has penned all of his films, developing the blocking starts as early as the script stage. “My scripts are quite detailed in the action of things. Whether someone is looking in the mirror, or doing something with their hands, I put them into my scripts.”
Haigh is particularly gifted at getting great performances out of his actors, who tend to win awards for their work with him, while cementing their place among the best performances not just of the year, but of the decade. Tom Cullen, the star of Weekend, should have been nominated for every Best Actor Award; the co-leads of 45 Years, Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling, both won the Berlin Film Festival Best Actor and Best Actress awards, and Rampling went on to earn an Oscar nomination; the star of Lean on Pete, Charlie Plummer, picked up the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival where the film premiered.
The endings of Haigh’s films — and his TV series Looking — are always extremely memorable. He’s spoken of building a script backwards, starting from the ending, as a way to ensure the film would end on a moment of high tension — whether it’s with a cut to black just before an anticipated kiss in Looking, or the moment where the couple’s relationship seems about to break at the end of 45 Years.
45 Years (2015)
Call Me by Your Name is the film Luca Guadagnino is best known for, and remains his crowning achievement so far. In adapting this story of first love, the Italian director perfected his precise and affective editing, as well as his talent for playing with his actors’ on-screen personas. In relying on Timothée Chalamet’s oddball charm and natural expressiveness, Call Me by Your Name essentially turned the young actor into a star.
The film also demonstrated Guadagnino’s interest in the duality and pull between surface and depth; between body and mind; between appearance and truth. Guadagnino made palpable the tension between Elio’s desire for Oliver, and his courage to physically act on it — but also the heartbreaking difference between Oliver’s public and private attitudes.
by Alex Heeney
Andrew Haigh uses sound and very precise framing to develop a complex, cinematic story of a long-term relationship.
by Alex Heeney
Andrew Haigh discusses 45 Years, shooting long takes, keeping us in Kate’s head space, and editing the film before the editing room.
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By Alex Heeney and Orla Smith
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Lean on Pete (2017)
Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete is one of the most spellbinding and gut-wrenching films of 2018. If, like us, you walked out of the film wanting to know how it came into being; how it fits into Haigh’s larger oeuvre; and how it engages the tropes of western films, this compilation, now available as an eBook, is for you.
Essay: Looking for home in the films of Andrew Haigh
An essay by Alex Heeney on how, in Lean on Pete, Charley’s search for home moves the plot, but the emotional journey to find home is at the heart of all of Haigh’s work.
Interview: writer-director Andrew Haigh
Andrew Haigh discusses his meticulous blocking and how he used it to express the journey of a boy searching for home in Lean on Pete.
Interview: Editor Jonathan Alberts
Jonathan Alberts discusses the long, painstaking editing process on Lean on Pete, from screening dailies on location, to creating a sound temp track, finding the best takes, choosing minimal cuts, and finding the right rhythm.
Interview: Cinematographer Magnus Jønck
Cinematographer Magnus Jønck approached Lean on Pete as a modern western, keeping the focus solely on character and de-romanticising the landscape.
Interview: Production Designer Ryan Warren Smith
Production designer Ryan Warren Smith discusses how he created rich, detailed environments that subtly reveal character.
Essay: Haigh and Reichardt are modernizing the western
An essay by Orla Smith on how Andrew Haigh’s Lean on Pete shares DNA with the films of Kelly Reichardt — both filmmakers deromanticize tired western tropes.