Has there ever been a more devastatingly effective use of a pop song in a movie sound track? Or a more quietly shattering portrait of a marriage?
The last two minutes or so of 45 Years focus on Charlotte Rampling’s face as she dances with Tom Courtenay, and you can see all 45 years of their onscreen marriage pass across her face, mostly in the haunted expressions emanating from her famously hooded eyes. The emotional force of what happened by small increments in the previous hour and a half of the movie now assaults the viewer like a quiet tsunami.
And then the plaintive words and striking chords of the Moody Blues’ Go Now kick in, hurling moviegoers into the credits sequence, not at all sure of what has just unfolded before their astonished eyes. Can this marriage be saved? Could it ever have been? Rarely does a film leave a viewer with so many questions about the fates of its two main characters, who have become as familiar as long-time friends who have suddenly and upsettingly become strangers to each other and to us.