Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years (2015)

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I am not familiar with Charlotte Rampling at all. I don’t even recall watching any of her films before, and when I look through her IMDB profile, they don’t exactly appeal to me either. My impression, based on what people are saying, is that she is a talented, underrated veteran actress who was considered long overdue for an Oscar nomination. And in the role of Kate Mercer, it shows.

I found 45 Years to be a bit dull and not very engaging, to be honest. I can see what it is going for and why some may love it – a low-key, realistic, character driven drama about an elderly couple who realise that their marriage may not have been as perfect as it seemed. The film is beautiful to look at, with a strong performance by Tom Courtenay (Would have nominated him), but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bored. The whole thing just felt a bit flat and one-note to me, and I didn’t think the story was super interesting.

Charlotte Rampling received her first Oscar nomination after years of being in this industry. It’s nice to see veteran performers, such as Jennifer Jason Leigh, finally being recognised for their talents. Rampling has a very natural and realistic acting style here that I fully appreciated. She turns Kate into a breathing, living and completely believable human being, making us relate to her worries, insecurities and anxieties. Like Cate Blanchett in Carol, she slowly peels away the layers of Kate, showing how she is becoming more and more doubtful about her husband and the authenticity of their marriage.

The performance is quiet, but packed with very nice moments here and there that allows us to get into Kate’s mind. One particularly memorable scene was the way she wordlessly glared at her husband through the car’s rear view mirror after she caught him smoking – brief, but brilliantly intense. I also liked the small quiet moments of sadness and exhaustion that she portrays (“I don’t think I can talk about her anymore”).

Rampling’s performance never feels one-note, even though Kate Mercer is not a very complex character. She is in total control, gradually revealing her character’s disillusionment and doubts more and more to the audience. She also makes the character’s emotions very subtle but realistic, and she becomes very sympathetic.

It is a bit hard to explain why I felt so much for this performance – it can definitely be too quiet for some, like how the movie is to me. And yet, Rampling’s performance left a deep impression, and I was pretty impressed. Another worthy addition to a strong best actress line-up. 4.5/5.

 

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