Between the lyrical, lovely Weekend
and the short-lived cult favourite Looking
, on HBO, writer-director Andrew Haigh has pushed the modern gay man—well, the white, fit, reasonably well-to-do one—past tired, lingering stereotypes and into a place more complex and interesting (altogether now: human). So his latest is something of a curveball: A pair of senior citizens (Academy Award nominee Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay) are a week out from their 45th anniversary. By the looks of it they’ve lived life well, with dogs and books and a house in the English countryside. There’s an easy, reliable, happy familiarity to their relationship. They don’t even really want this party, don’t need it; their 40th was derailed by an illness of his. Then a letter arrives and it contains information about the one thing they’ve never discussed in their nearly five decades together. And over quiet, luxurious, long takes—time moves via day-of-the-week title cards—everything they’ve built their lives on comes into question. It’s a slow-burning build to the astonishing final scene, where with a single gesture Rampling tells you exactly how they’ll move on.