Wednesday 6 January 2016

The Current Cinema - Ben Gibson recommends 45 Years

Spoiler alert  (details revealed)...Somehow we only just caught up with 45 YEARS  (Andrew Haigh, UK, 2015) -- completely engrossing, moving, articulate and I think also a great teaching film: The first dialogue scene with the over-respectful postman full of compacted and subtle exposition-in-character; the camera calmly and carefully framing looks and states, with deliberately expressive angles and shadows shaping point-of-view, shorter-than-usual lenses and some interior space for once, no pointless and randomly close two-shots, confidently locked off for once, so not roaming in search of some empty emphasis or the vacuous and inert photographing of some actors working, when it moved following HER LOOK rather than roaming about looking just for HER, for instance, when she views the party venue; everyday sounds telling their own stories sharply; the ex-girlfriend attic slide show in alternating blackness framing HER SIGHT of these facts and not just the empty facts themselves for whoever-can-see; the plotting meager and sharp and the information owned, driven by the characters' growing knowledge rather than only the writer's generalised curiosity, and with careful and telling elipsis; the characters themselves daring and original, with an ex-factory manager who's also ranting at right-wingers and trying to master German philosophy (ever see such a person on British telly?); every look and line of performance considered, intimate and delicately small; the dialogue full of intended and telling ambiguity; the ending triumphantly early, total and simple. 

In summary: if some more UK films about ordinary contemporary characters could be made with this precision, with such respect for the exactitudes of film craft, like say the very best of French family dramas, we'd no longer recoil in horror and disgust at the preposterous question: "D'you wanna see a flick about some aged middle class marrieds in Norfolk preparing for their anniversary party?". We'd just ask, like a bunch of French cinephiles I suppose, "Who made it?" and "Does it matter at all?" and then maybe get along to some of our own pictures all about us....i.e. We enjoyed it.

45 Years opens around Australia on 18 February

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