45 Years—Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are Kate and Geoff, a rural English couple with no kids, a week away from their 45th anniversary. One morning Geoff gets a letter from the authorities in Switzerland, telling him that the body of his previous girlfriend Katya, who was lost in a fall from a mountain 50 years earlier, has been found, preserved in a glacier. He tries to hide the extent to which the news rattles him, and Kate tries to be understanding, but it gradually becomes clear how significant the earlier relationship was to him. The marriage is shaken, just as it approaches the victory lap.
Andrew Haigh directed this quiet, incremental drama, based on a story by David Constantine. It’s mainly a showcase for the leads, especially Rampling, who’s been Oscar-nominated. She’s superb, and Courtenay’s just as good, and the movie is worth watching just for their brilliantly shaded duet.
But while the idea—that any marriage, no matter how long and durable, can be upended—is provocative, Haigh doesn’t seem sure where to take it. And this is understandable. Neither melodramatic tragedy nor sappy sentiment seems right for it. So the story goes for ambiguity, and it must be admitted that Rampling is able to give us a lot of intriguing ambiguity without even having to speak. Even so, the movie, worthy as it is, ultimately doesn’t satisfy. It has the feel of, say, a New Yorker short story—impeccably executed, maddeningly unresolved.
The 5th Wave—Aliens invade Earth and start exterminating the human race in a series of “waves.”: First they shut off the power, then they cause massive flooding, then a plague, and so forth. We see this from the point of view of Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz), a self-described ordinary Ohio teenager, struggling to reunite with her little brother.
Based on a novel by Rick Yancey and directed by J Blakeson, this young-adult Apocalypse begins pretty entertainingly and grows more free-wheelingly ludicrous as it progresses. At times the dialogue seems almost like a parody of the morbid-and-maudlin teen genre, and some of the vets in the cast, notably Liev Schreiber and Maria Bello as gung-ho military types, seem to be playing it a little tongue-in-cheek as well. A tough girl (Maika Monroe of It Follows) even gets a barracks speech that’s pretty close to the “Psycho” scene in Stripes.
Perhaps because of this sense that nobody’s taking it too seriously, I found The 5th Wave more likable, on the whole, than most of the Twilight-Hunger-Games-Maze-Runner stuff. There’s little more to say about it except to note…the hair.
Talk about waves. Everybody’s hair, but most notably Moretz’s hair, and the hair of Alex Roe as the hunky mystery man who rescues her and binds her wounds, is mesmerizingly well-styled. It’s the end of the world as we know it, but Pantene, TRESemmé and blow dryers still appear to be in use.