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Oscar Films for 2016: 45 Years

45 Years wasn't nominated for Best Picture, but the performance of Charlotte Rampling in the film was nominated for Best Actress, so I decided to take a look at the film. Anything to keep me away from Room. And Roger, we do miss you.

45 Years is about an older and retired couple in Britain who are going about enjoying their declining years (and there will be a lot of declining before this film is through) with comfort in their financial and physical circumstances and in their relationship and marriage of 45 years. Indeed, Kate (Charlotte Rampling's role) is planning their 45th anniversary party. They skipped the 40th one because of Jeffery's (Tom Courtenay doing one of his innocuous and oblivious older man roles) bypass operation in that year. Jeffery is back in adequate health, although a neighbor who sees him in town insists that something is wrong with him (she's right but not in the sense that she thinks) and Jeffery later complains that he still can not walk very far without getting out of breath. The film is dropping hints that not all is as it seems.

Kate is doing all the walking for the couple. The film begins and periodically shows us Kate walking the family dog in the fields and along the roads. The walks appear to be long and thorough and satisfying for Kate and the dog. The camera stays back, a long way back, on the happy dog and his human. The camera removes itself from the action in the film and only moves in when just Kate and Jeffery are reacting to each other. At the end, the camera only focuses on Kate. The movie is about Kate.

Early in the film, after an invigorating dog walk and a tall glass of water, Kate notices that Jeffery has received a letter from Switzerland notifying him that due to global warming and a melting glacier, that the body of a young woman has been found in the glacier's melted wash. Jeffery is the designated next-of-kin although he really isn't. The wet glacier young lady was a friend of his (later discovered by Kate to be his lover) with whom he was touring Europe in his youth. The young lady fell down a memory or glacier hole to her oblivion and death until she floated back to the surface forty something years later. Kate never knew about Jeffery's woman before her. Kate always thought that their meeting and marriage was just one of those perfect unions of human kind. There was nothing much before Kate and Jeffery (in Kate's mind) and there might not be much of them left after the movie ends.

The film concerns the slow and tortuous unraveling of the story of Jeffery and the glacier maid. Jeffery is remembering his old girlfriend now that she has been brought back life in his memories, but Jeffery is not the kind of guy who dwells on much of anything if he can help it. He doesn't like to go back to reunions with his old executive work pals and he isn't really keen on the anniversary coming up. Indeed, despite his heart problems (and Jeffery has not only physical heart problems but emotional ones as well), Jeffery has gone back to smoking on benches in town away from Kate's notice (probably the cause of the neighbor's concern about his health earlier in the picture) until she notices when she comes to pick him up. Kate is the doer in the family, she drives Jeffery (she probably drove him to be successful in his career too) and she walks the dog and she makes dinner. Jeffery just sits and takes it all as his due. In fact for the first 20 minutes of the picture, I thought that Jeffery was in a wheelchair from his limited movements.

A lovely moment in the film (lovely for the themes and the images, not lovely for Kate's emotional downfall) occurs in the attic of the couple's house. Jeffery has been sneaking up there at night and Kate can hear the picture slide projector clicking and whirling (it reminded me of Mad Men's carousel slide ad, but this one is about the bad and disgarded memories of one's life).  Kate gets the immobile Jeffery out of the house and goes up into the attic (and yells at the dog while doing it) and on a ghostly white sheet, she runs the slide projector for herself. The slides are pictures of Jeffery and his wet and icy lady love of his youth. That is bad enough for Kate who thought that she was the love of Jeffery's life, but it gets worse when she sees what more discomfort and disillusion those slides have to offer her about her fruitful (to her at least) marriage. Jeffery's deceptions crush Kate. And the lady love in her ghostly projection sheet in the slides breaks Kate's heart and her belief in herself and the marriage that has been her life's work for the past 45 years.

I've enjoyed Miss Rampling's work since her part as the supreme bitch in Georgy Girl. She plays a much more conventional woman in 45 Years, but she inhabits the part fully and comfortably. It is always good to see an older woman actress being given a well-written and important part in a movie. It is a real woman part, she is not a detective or a drag older woman or a crazy granny.

I commend the academy for nominating her and acknowledging the movie and her part in it. She was given a good character to play and she did it beautifully, if only more movies could this humanizing for women.

I am aware of the current controversy of nominations for the Academy Awards but I will not be addressing that in this post. Later.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 25th, 2016 06:07 pm (UTC)
Lovely Write Up
I really want to see this film now. I also love it when meaty roles are written for older actresses.

Charlotte said some insensitive things about the Oscar controversy. I understand why everyone is all worked up on one hand... on the other hand this is nothing new to me... every year there are bogus, unfair nominations. I dunno...

Jan. 26th, 2016 12:02 am (UTC)
Re: Lovely Write Up
I enjoyed the film. I hadn't read any reviews of it before I saw it, so I went in with no idea of what it was about. I was never bored and I never started wondering at the beginning of the film just what it was about and when it was going to get there(I do that with some films). As I said, I like a film with a real woman in it, particularly an older woman because so films are done about them.

I don't think that Miss Rampling really understands the diversity issue in film even though she must face a measure of it when it comes to older women roles. Why is Jennifer Lawrence nominated for Joy? I couldn't get through more than 20 minutes of that film and then I found out that Miss Lawrence was playing a 40 year old woman in it. Whaaaaat?????? Miss Lawrence couldn't play a 40 year old woman convincingly (but then Robert De Niro can't play any role convincingly these days), but Miss Lawrence was nominated for her role. Did she deserve a nomination? Pleeeeeeeeze.....but I suppose Miss Rampling wouldn't criticize that. Does she realize the irony of her comments in relation to that nomination?

But the roles and stories and films all need to diversify. My beloved The Wire was the start for a great many good and great careers for black actors, Idris Elba (the hottest thing in Baltimore), Michael B. Jordan, R. Clayton Davis ("Sheeeeeeeeet" was his incalculable contribution to American vernacular), and Wendell Pierce among others. But The Wire never received the nominations that it deserved as one of the best TV series ever made.

If it is there, acknowledge it, but that doesn't always happen.

We can always snark on the bad nominations.
Jan. 26th, 2016 05:25 pm (UTC)
RE: Re: Lovely Write Up
I STILL havent seen the Wire.

I did wonder at Charlotte's lack of empathy considering the fact that shes a woman... an older woman in the film industry.

I really don't think Jennifer Lawrence has deserved a nomination since Winter's Bone. I enjoyed her crazy dancing woman ... but an Oscar nod?! The previews for Joy were so terrible that i had zero desire to see it. The previews would have been better with an actual 40 year old woman in the role. Jennifer Lawrence keeps on talking about feminism in her interviews about Joy. I guess shes a female entrepreneur? We should make a list of other actresses they could have cast. Lol Naomi Watts...

Also I cannot imagine that Matt Damon did anything so remarkable on Mars that he should win an Oscar for it. LOL I haven't seen the movie so i should judge...
Jan. 26th, 2016 07:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Lovely Write Up
The Wire! Someday, you have got to start watching. Try a tempting taste of a Season One Binge. You will wonder how you ever got along in life without it. It is like the Sweet Tooth Craving for Sugar or a Must Have Bar of Chocolate. Haha! Better than a Sweet Potato Pie! And I know how much you love those, as do I.

As for Joy, yeah Naomi Watts, Kathy Bates in her prime, Sandra Bullock, Kathy Kinney, and let's go for diversity! Queen Latifah! I'd watch her in anything and she has the right measure of optimism and tolerance for family eccentricities. Or Karen Maruyama, she is a riot, much funnier than Margaret Cho. And she has more empathy.

You know, one of the reasons that I watch American Horror Story (and it is not for the plots because they are all a Mess on that show) is for the older actresses and their ease and guile and acting technique with their characters. And the show gives them good roles (not quite Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? but good ones). Sure, they play crazy grannies and Grand Guignol characters at times but Murphy gives them some real women roles too. Kathy Bates was great this season as unappreciated but overwhelming MOTHER. And Mare Winningham was just as wildly good as Evan Peters this season. I didn't know that he had that in him. Frances Conroy was Grace personified as the Angel of Death in another season. And Angela Basset---that woman has sold her soul to the Devil to look as good as she does.

One of my favorite directors is Ridley Scott. Why did Damon get a nomination for The Martian and not Scott? I have seen the movie and it was enjoyable. Good fun and Jessica Chastain got to rescue Every Body from every Peril that Space could provide. Scott from Alien on has always respected his women actresses and their characters.

I'd guess that Matt got the nomination on his "STAR" quality---he delivers good performances (and accents---that man has got the ear for accents, better than Meryl Streep. If you've ever seen The Rain Maker, he has got the perfect Memphis accent. Not a generic Southern accent, a MEMPHIS MID-TOWN accent, I was stunned to hear it from him, a Boston boy) and brings in the money at the box office. I am hoping for the same career for Michael B. Jordan and then maybe he will get the nominations that Denzel Washington and Will Smith (but not this year) can obtain from the academy, for some of the same reasons.

And yeah, "I'll be Judge, I'll be Jury" and you too! ;-)

Edited at 2016-01-26 07:07 pm (UTC)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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