Above: Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling star in "45 Years."
After seeing eight films in two days at the 34th Vancouver International Film Festival, we saw a ninth — Andrew Haigh's "45 Years" — on Saturday before driving home. Yes, our 2015 VIFF sojourn was brief.
But maybe more satisfying than any short festival venture we've every undertaken. I've already written my impressions of the first eight. But "45 Years" was as good as any of them.
The movie involves an elderly couple (Tom Courtenay, Charlotte Rampling), likely in their 70s, who are approaching their 45th anniversary. Days before the big event, the husband receives a letter from Germany. Seems the woman he was engaged to 1962, who disappeared on a Swiss mountain during an afternoon hike, has been found. Rather, her body — perfectly preserved in a glacier — has been found.
And that simple scenario sets up a profession of events that ends up causing a disruption of everything the two had long before accepted about each other. Not only is the story, which writer-director Haigh adapted from a short story by the British writer David Constantine, full of inherent tension. But the way Haigh films it, continually filling the frame with images that speak of threat, certainly adds to the film's power.
"45 Years" won't have a mainstream release until Dec. 23. But it will play once more time, Tuesday night, at VIFF. OK, it's doubtful that anyone is going to drive eight-plus hours to see the film. And, sooner or later, it's likely to open in Spokane, if not at AMC River Park Square then at the Magic Lantern.
But the quality of "45 Years" does go to show just how good our trek to VIFF 2015 was. The festival runs through Friday, so it's still possible for Spokane movie fans to head on over to see for themselves.
You might as well. Spokane won't open its own festival until January 29.