[Spoiler alert: Yes, I am going to talk about the way the film panned out].
I haven’t been in the habit of talking about film. That’s partly because I see far fewer than I’d like, and the time between outings is way too long to get any real sense of films in general, let alone one film in particular. [And perhaps that’s a clue that you should stop reading about now—I don’t really know what I am talking about!]
Anyway, I was looking forward to this film [ah, movie you might call it].
It has Charlotte Rampling who has one of those faces—you know the ones, those that show character because the actor isn’t fifteen and has lived many lives. And it has Tom Courtenay, too, who I am not particularly familiar with, but has a used face too. [I’m still working on my face but I’ve got a long way to go on that particular project—maybe I need more whisky and late nights].
Anyway, when the film finished I felt let down—I was disappointed.
So maybe it’s me, maybe I have expectation that are way too high [you may recall that this problem has occurred before].
Anyway, what was good? I guess Rampling was good but not Oscar nomination good. And a film needs more than a face staring moodily past the camera to carry it forward.
It was all too slow and there wasn’t enough meat for a screenplay—being based on a short story, I guess that’s the truth of it. [The short story is by David Constantine; it’s called In Another Country.]. And it did have a flat stage-play-brought-to-the-screen feel about it [not that this is always bad].
The story? Kate, Charlotte Rampling, and Geoff, Tom Courtenay, have been married for forty-five years. Before they met, he had a relationship that ended with the tragic mountain death of his partner Katya; her body was never found and was swallowed up in a glacier. As the film begins, Geoff receives the news that the preserved body of Katya has been found in ice melting due to warming of the glacier. In the rest of the film the effect of this revelation is played out.
This couple seemed to have nothing even without the revelation of the film. There was no joy in the relationship, no fun, or laughter, or genuine communication. It was as if these two didn’t really know each other [or they’d started on set the morning shooting began, and hadn’t quite worked their way into any sort of rapport]. Maybe, of course, that was the whole point, that the revelation of the film had so hung over the relationship for the entire 45 plus years that there had never been a real meeting of minds? But then the Kate, Charlotte Rampling, of the end of the film would have known that all along, would have known that the couple was not working.
I found it difficult to become emotionally engaged with these characters let alone the film. I know that we don’t have to like all or any characters in the films we see but it would be nice to actually care what happens to the characters. In this one? Not a bit.
So this film is the story of the short future—there is no time for this relationship to recover, though Geoff, the Tom Courtenay character, like men in general, perhaps, seems capable of shutting the door on this and moving on [as he has done, perhaps, for nearly fifty years] as though the shadow of Katya does not exist. Kate, Charlotte Rampling, appears not to be able [and fair enough, too, I could add].
Their relationship seemed to have so little that it should have been over before it started. What a waste of two lives and of the ninety minutes of my life that I’ll never get back watching this film.
I notice from reviews out there in the public arena that I’m way out of step in my opinion of this film. So go and see this to see what you think, or better still, wait a little till you can watch it at less expense on cable. I reckon it’s one of this films that won’t shine too long, and will disappear off the charts to where it belongs.