45 Years and Still Having Sex

A scene from 45 years

45 Years is a British drama about a couple preparing for a 45th anniversary of their wedding. Here’s the synopsis.

Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) is planning a party to celebrate her 45th wedding anniversary. One week before the celebration, however, a letter arrives for her husband, Geoff (Tom Courtenay), containing news that reawakens troubling and long-hidden memories.

Though Kate continues to prepare for the anniversary, she becomes increasingly concerned by Geoff’s preoccupation with the letter and the ensuing revelations about his past. By the time the party comes round, there may not be a marriage left to celebrate.

Anchored by sensational performances from Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay, 45 Years is an intimate, moving and beautifully restrained portrait of a marriage shaken to its core by things left unspoken. Winning Best Actor and Best Actress awards at this year’s Berlinale Film Festival, Andrew Haigh’s (Weekend, Looking) 45 Years is British filmmaking at its very best.

45 Years opens in cinemas & on demand on 28 August.

Watch the trailer for this film, which looks lovely, and then we can talk about older people having sex in the movies and on television.

Elder Sex

There is apparently a sex scene in 45 Years, which prompted a very interesting article at BBC Culture: Why Are Sex Scenes for the Over 60s such a Taboo? They mention a number of examples of films where sex among the older set is implied, but not shown. And cases where it is shown are described as unpleasant to watch. Saggy old bodies apparently don’t make anyone want to look, no matter what the story line requires.

Anne Reid and Daniel Craig in The Mother
Anne Reid and Daniel Craig in “The Mother”

Interestingly, one of the examples they give is The Mother, a British film in which a 70-year-old Anne Reid seduces a much younger Daniel Craig. Now, Anne Reid stars in Last Tango in Halifax, a love story specifically about elders. Reid plays opposite Derek Jacobi in Last Tango in Halifax and there is talk about the two of them having sex, but we don’t see any hint of it on the screen. To be fair, we don’t see sex among the younger characters on Last Tango in Halifax either – everything is merely implied.

The article at the BBC prompted elder blogger Ronni Bennett at Time Goes By to write Elder Sex at the Movies. She quotes Roger Ebert in his review of the film Cloud 9.

Although Roger Ebert had some reservations about the movie in general, he made an important point in his review that I was floundering to identify:

”The director, Andreas Dresen, presents the sex scenes as if they involve two 20-year-olds, as she should.”

If a sex scene is important to a story, put it in there!I’ve made the point here on the blog several times that I’m all in favor of movies in which elders have sex just like any other humans. Just like 20-year-olds!

Saying that “elders” shouldn’t be seen having sex on film is akin to saying “men” shouldn’t be seen having sex on film, or “women” shouldn’t be seen having sex on film. If a sex scene is important to a story, put it in there!

Although the BBC article and the Time Goes By article mentioned many films which include elder sex, I want to point out a few I’ve reviewed here on this blog.

  • Still Mine starring James Cromwell and Geneviève Bujold. This is a Canadian film with a lovely sex scene.
  • On My Way starring Catherine Deneuve. This is a French film.
  • Camilla starring Jessica Tandy includes a sex scene with Hume Cronyn, as did their film Cocoon.
  • Grace and Frankie in which both Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin have something close to sex scenes. Or dancing as a metaphor for sex, anyway.
  • Ricki and the Flash with aging rockers rocking in bed.
  • And So It Goes with Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton doing the deed rather badly.

To me, 45 Years looks like a brilliant film. I intend to watch it and celebrate any sex between Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as it happens.

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