Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay
“45 YEARS” My rating: B+
95 minutes | MPAA rating: R
Everyone has a few secrets. Usually it’s a case of no harm, no foul.
But for the couple at the center of Andrew Haigh’s “45 Years,” long-kept secrets threaten a decades-old marriage.
Kate (Oscar nominated Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) are retirees living in a bucolic and green corner of England. They’ve never had children, doting instead on a series of dogs. They are comfortable and reasonably happy.
One day the postman brings a letter that upends their placid existence. Geoff learns that melting glaciers have revealed the body of his long-ago girlfriend, who was hiking Europe with him when she fell to her death in an alpine crevasse. Now, more than 50 years later, the authorities want him to come settle matters.
Kate knew of this shadowy woman only vaguely. Geoff has never talked much about her. But now she learns that way back then Geoff identified himself to the authorities as the dead woman’s husband. Actually they never married, but as far as the Swiss police are concerned, he’s still next of kin.
This revelation gnaws at Kate as she goes about arranging a party to celebrate her and Geoff’s 45th wedding anniversary (Geoff was ill for their 40th, so this is to make up for lost time).
But even as she must deal with renting a banquet hall, selecting music for the dance, and creating a menu, she’s gnawed by doubts.
Just how well does she know this man who has shared her life?
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Billy Connolly, Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay and Pauline Collins
“QUARTET” My rating: B- (Opens January 25 at the Tivoli and Glenwood Arts)
98 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13
“Quartet,” the movies’ latest exercise in geriaxploitation, is about old folks living in a not-for-profit British community for retired musicians.
It’s “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” with operatic solos instead of sitars and tablas.
It’s also the feature film directing debut of actor Dustin Hoffman, who doesn’t appear on the screen but proves himself more than capable of calling the shots behind the camera. “Quartet” isn’t astoundingly cinematic, but Hoffman clearly knows how to work with actors.
Of course it helps to have an A-list cast of graying Brit thesps on hand.
Set in a formerly grand English country house which now has been divided up into apartments, Ronald Harwood’s screenplay (based on his stage play) centers on the arrival of Jean Horton (Maggie Smith), a once world-famous soprano whose shaky finances have forced her to give up her London townhouse. Now she’s come to Beecham House to live among her aged peers.
Not that she’s looking forward to it. Group living is a real comedown for the imperious Jean, who spends the first few days taking her meals in her room and listening to old LPs of her performances. There’s a touch of the imperious Lady Violet Crawley (of “Downton Abbey,” natch) in Smith’s performance, but also a welcome vulnerability.
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