“45 Years” (2015)
Geoff (Tom Courtenay) and Kate (Charlotte Rampling) have been married for 45 years. They have a nice, settled life. Kate likes to take walks out in the country with their dog. Geoff is more of a homebody, taking lots of naps in the easy chair in the den. Due to illness, they were not able to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, so they are determined to celebrate their 45th anniversary in five days. It’s very apparent that they care for each other and have fun interacting although Geoff always seems a little slow to pick up what Kate is saying or doing. It’s obvious that Geoff isn’t as well as Kate, with Kate doing most of the heavy lifting in the relationship.
Geoff, out of the blue, gets a letter in German that tells him the body of an old love from before he Kate has been found. They were hiking across Europe in 1962. While in the mountains, she fell, her body lost in the snow and rock. It shocks Geoff who wants to go to Switzerland and help in the burial, since his former love might not have any surviving family members. This ghost from the past is going to test their marriage in ways that they never could expect and maybe break up this old, seemingly happy couple.
This is a film that moves slowly but brilliantly, as the relationship between Geoff and Kate starts coming apart the closer to the anniversary we get. Reliving the past is tough on Geoff as he retreats further into his thoughts and spends less time with his wife. He starts taking long walks into the local town, something that he wouldn’t have done before the letter. Kate becomes frustrated, as Geoff falls into a spiral of despair. Kate has to also come to terms with the fact that while she knew about his former love, she never knew how deep and meaningful it was to him. It kills her to think that their love isn’t as strong as the love he had for the other woman.
Director/writer Andrew Haigh, adapting a short story by David Constantine, has done a masterful job of bringing this moving and heartbreaking film to the screen. He creates tension slowly, as the couple deals desperately with the growing chasm between them as the anniversary party creeps closer day by day. Clocks seem to be in every shot, and Kate even contemplates buying her husband an anniversary watch but decides against it. It’s as if time is now the enemy of the couple, as the world they used to know and love slowly ticks away. Haigh’s directing is aided by cinematographer Lol Crawley, who creates a world that seems to be getting darker as the week progresses.
Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are brilliant together on the screen. Their interaction makes it seem that they truly have been with each other for those 45 years. There is a brilliant scene in the film, where Kate comes home to find Geoff has cut his hand. We don’t know if we believe his story of trying to make a repair to the commode, or if he is covering up for attempting to find his old girlfriends letters in the attic. It’s a moving scene, their unspoken worries weighing down of them. Courtenay gives a masterful performance but this is Rampling’s film, and she dominates it as her character slowly gives away to the ache and agony of the situation. Rambling gives a complex performance that encompasses everything from confusion to pain and finally to jealousy. It’s a performance that is more than worthy of her Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
“45 Years” is a touching film that will stay with you for a long time. There is a scene near the end of the movie where Rampling takes your breath away; the look she gives is just so painful to experience. We don’t know if their marriage survives this; we just know it will never be the same. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
The film is playing in the Atlanta area exclusively at UA Tara Cinemas 4
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