Tom and Charlotte awarded on rich tapestries of life


AFTER more than half a century in acting, Tom Courtenay was finally able to film his first “love scene”, in his new film 45 Years.

“I don’t think I’ve done it yet, I was very excited about the idea,” said the 78-year-old while chatting with his co-star, Charlotte Rampling. “I had to wait. Now it’s too late,” he laughs.

“No,” Rampling intervenes to support him. “You are going to travel around the world in your underwear!”

In the film, a moving story based on a short story by writer David Constantine, the couple play retired couple Geoff and Kate Mercer, who are set to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary when they receive unexpected news and disturbing.

In real life, the main stars, who had never worked together before, enjoy a warm and tactile rapport, which helps make Geoff and Kate’s long marriage totally compelling onscreen – and has without any doubt made the meeting in the room a little less awkward.

But while Doctor Zhivago actor Courtenay found the scene “quite easy, because it was so unrewarding,” Rampling admits that while it was important to the story, she felt bad. comfortable that day.

“Intimate scenes, I don’t like doing. I never liked doing them,” admits the 69-year-old. “I’m comfortable with my body, but privacy is privacy, it’s not meant to be seen.”

45 Years, directed by Andrew Haigh, has previously won awards at the Berlin Film Festival (where they were named Best Actor and Actress) and at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where it won the award for best feature film. British.

The story begins with Kate, a retired teacher from Norfolk, finalizing plans for the birthday party. The event has special significance as the couple’s 40th celebrations had to be called off when Geoff underwent bypass surgery.

This romantic relationship and cozy balance are shaken, however, when Geoff receives a letter informing him that the body of his former lover Katya, who died in the Swiss Alps during a hiking trip they took in 1962, has been found. .

Katya (his girlfriend before he met Kate) had fallen into a crack in a glacier and as a result her corpse was frozen and preserved.

As Geoff tries to process the news and more details of the past begin to emerge – that he was considered Katya’s next of kin and the young couple pretended to be married to avoid disapproval. – Kate finds herself in the grip of jealousy.

By the time the feast day arrives, there may be no more weddings to be celebrated.

“We were both very happy to receive the script,” said Courtenay, a native of Hull, married to director Isabel Crossley. “When I got her, Charlotte was on board so I could imagine her as Kate. It was a wonderful thing that she was asked to do.”

Rampling, born in Essex – who is based in Paris and has two sons from previous marriages, with publicist Bryan Southcombe and French composer Jean Michel Jarre – can understand why Geoff didn’t tell Kate earlier at what point he was close to Katya.

“It was two years before they met, and he’s not going to tell his next girlfriend everything, two years later really, about that relationship. So if you don’t say it then, when do you say it? ” she notes.

“Suddenly there isn’t a good time to say certain things, and you end up keeping secrets that aren’t really secrets. It’s not that you want to hold anything back, but they become a huge thing. . It becomes the story of this movie, this haunting, this so-called elephant in the room that he never talked about. “

Rampling, who had only met Courtenay once briefly before the film’s release, says she didn’t find it difficult to portray a relationship spanning nearly five decades.

“It’s just a matter of experience, of life experience. We’ve both had relationships, long marriages or companions, we’ve each lived a lifetime, and you give that to the story and to another character, but it’s still you.

“Because it’s really a film about being, it’s not really a film about acting,” she adds. “It’s about living the life of these characters very closely.”

However, these actors are unsure if the quietness of Geoff and Kate’s retired life would interest them.

“I don’t know. That’s the nice thing about playing someone like Kate,” says Rampling. “I was just borrowing his life.

Courtenay, soon to be seen in an upcoming film version of Dad’s Army (“It’s not as emotional a role as Geoff, shall we say”), adds: “I think it’s nice to work, but I’m glad now that I don’t have a lead; I don’t know what I’m going to do next. It’s good not to be working all the time, and it’s good to have a project to think about.

Do the awards 45 Years have already received mean anything to seasoned veterans like this pair?

“I think anyone would lie [if they said they didn’t mean anything]”said Courtenay, who has two Oscar nominations to her name, for Doctor Zhivago in 1965 and The Dresser in 1983.

“Receiving an award is an exciting thing,” adds Rampling. “Andrew has created a beautiful canvas of a relationship. We feel like human beings watching her, very involved, as these are the tapestries of our lives, no matter how old we are.”

:: 45 Years hits theaters tomorrow.

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