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45 Years Blu-ray Review

45 Years (2015) movie poster 45 Years

US Theatrical Release: December 23, 2015 (UK Release: August 28, 2015) / Running Time: 96 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Andrew Haugh / Writers: Andrew Haigh (adaptation), David Constantine (short story "In Another Country")

Cast: Charlotte Rampling (Kate Mercer), Tom Courtenay (Geoff Mercer), Geraldine James (Lena), Dolly Wells (Sally), David Sibley (George), Sam Alexander (Chris the Postman), Richard Cunningham (Mr. Watkins), Hannah Chalmers (Travel Agent), Camille Ucan (Café Waitress), Rufus Wright (Jake)

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Of the nominees in major categories (and even most minor ones) at this year's Academy Awards, one film stood out from the others. 45 Years, nominated for Best Actress for Charlotte Rampling, was a bona fide independent movie from IFC Films, a distributor with no big parent company. It opened later than the others and when its nomination was announced in mid-January, it was playing in just nine theaters.
It would expand as far as 251 theaters on the week leading up to the Oscar ceremony, but the movie never did as much business as even the less mainstream of its competition like Room and The Danish Girl. Even those who went out of their way to see most nominees before Hollywood's big night might have found it difficult to catch this British movie, which I only narrowly caught before the Online Film Critics Society's voting deadline thanks to a swift PR screener mailing.

Directed by Andrew Haigh, who rose up from editing and adapts David Constantine's uncredited short story In Another Country, 45 Years looks at life for Kate (Rampling) and Geoff Mercer (Tom Courtenay), a British couple about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. Their long marriage appears to be comfortable and harmonious. But then Geoff gets a letter from Switzerland informing him that the body of his pre-Kate girlfriend Katya has been discovered, preserved in a mountain glacier where she disappeared back in 1962.

Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) is troubled by her husband's old photos she discovers in the attic in "45 Years."

The significance of the discovery grows as Geoff reveals himself to be Katya's next of kin, the young lovers having posed as a married couple to be able to room together. Quietly, Geoff appears to be quite moved by thoughts of his old flame, to the increasing disturbance of Kate, as she plans their anniversary party. These complicated feelings play out in the faces and actions of these two people who thought they knew everything about one another, having spent most of their lives together.

45 Years is mature, solemn, and understated storytelling, a far cry from how mainstream cinema can be described. That surely limited its commercial prospects, but maximizes the impact and uniqueness of the drama.

The Oscar nomination was the first ever for Rampling,
who turned 70 in February and has been acting in films and television since the mid-1960s with no more than the infrequent year off. Even her best-known credits are not terribly well-known, but she's been prolific enough to view this nod as a bit of a full career recognition. Courtenay, who is 79 and whose filmography extends even a little further (and includes movies you probably have seen, from Doctor Zhivago to The Golden Compass), is equally compelling in a different way from the leading lady. He might have gotten a nomination too, had there not been stiffer competition in both the lead and supporting actor categories, where he was alternately campaigned.

Like Boyhood and a select subsequent IFC titles, 45 Years reaches home video from Paramount, who initially announced it as a DVD-only release before going through with the Blu-ray edition reviewed here.

45 Years Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($29.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

45 Years may be a low-budget film from a legitimately small distributor, but it is the mid-2010s and thus it still looks terrific on Blu-ray from Paramount. The 1.85:1 picture is sharp and pristine, while the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix gets the basic job done, garnering notice only rarely, as in the closing song.

The "45 Years" Blu-ray menu adapts black and white UK poster art.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

45 Years gets not a single extra on Blu-ray, not even trailers.

The tasteful, static, silent menu is adapted from the UK poster art.

The eco-friendly keepcase is accompanied by neither slipcover nor insert.

Long-married couple Geoff (Tom Courtenay) and Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) face some upsetting news in "45 Years."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

45 Years offers a tender, honest and life-affirming portrait of a long-married couple.
This understated British drama hooks you with timeless elements: solid acting, three-dimensional characters, and thought-provoking material.

One of last year's better films, I don't know that it's a super rewatchable one and Paramount's entirely barebones Blu-ray, though preferable to the DVD-only release this nearly got, isn't exactly demanding a buy. Still, the movie is well worth seeing one way or another.

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: Anomalisa • One More Time • Hail, Caesar! • Zootopia • Hello, My Name Is Doris
Best Actress Oscar Nominees: Carol • Room • Brooklyn • Joy | Golden Globes Actress Nominees: The Lady in the Van • Grandma
Charlotte Rampling: The Verdict | Tom Courtenay: Quartet • Gambit • Doctor Zhivago
Amour • Son of Saul • Clouds of Sils Maria

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Reviewed June 12, 2016.



Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2015 Sundance Selects, Film 4, BFI, Creative England, and 2016 Paramount Home Entertainment.
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