2015 AFI Fest Tribute and Screening
Although they could now pass for a sedate retired couple on holiday, they were two of the hottest stars of the 1960s. For classic film fans, their rare appearance together was perhaps the highlight of the festival. Courtenay first received international attention in the British “kitchen sink” dramas, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) and Billy Liar (1963),
Rampling got her start two years later in The Knack and How to Get It (1965) and Georgy Girl (1966). From those parts as a teen “dolly bird” in mod England, she went on star in the provocative The Damned (1969) directed by Luchino Visconti and The Night Porter (1974) written and directed by Liliana Cavani. Both of them co-starred Dirk Bogarde.
The drama school trained Courtenay is possibly best known for Dr. Zhivago (1965) the epic of the Russian Revolution directed by David Lean which starred Julie Christie.
No fault of these brilliant veteran actors, 45 Years simply isn’t very good. There are moments to recommend it but the direction by editor-turned-director Andrew Haigh is somewhat flat. The screenplay he adapted from a short story by David Constantine has an intriguing premise of a letter that involves a mysterious death. But, it isn’t followed up on or capitalized to a significant degree. Most of the drama after that centers around an upcoming anniversary party that never quite pays off. With those reservations, I’d say to see it for Courtenay and Rampling because we may never see them together again.