45 Years movie full length review - 45 Years
I found out about this film when it popped up during awards season, the title made it obvious it was something to do with a long marriage, but I didn't know about the plot, I was looking forward to watching it, directed by Andrew Haigh (Weekend).
Basically the story takes place over six days, leading up to the forty-fifth wedding anniversary of retired and childless Norfolk couple the Mercers, Kate (Oscar nominated Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Unforgotten's Tom Courtenay). Their fortieth wedding anniversary was cancelled due to Geoff's heart bypass surgery, this time dozens of friends are invited to attend the celebration at Assembly House in Norwich. A week before the party, Geoff receives a letter from Switzerland that the body of his former lover from the early 1960s, Katya, has been found in a melting glacier where she fell into a crevasse on their hike over five decades ago, memories rush back, but has forgotten his German and cannot read the letter. Kate has known about Katya since she and Geoff met in the late 1960s, she is unconcerned at first by his anxiety, saying that she cannot be upset by something that happened before they existed, but Kate is perhaps curious. The next day Kate finds Geoff a German- English dictionary, soon his conduct changes as it becomes he has something on his mind since reading the letter, he starts to take steps to go to Switzerland to see Katya's body, without telling Kate, he wonders if the ice means that she still looks youthful. Kate prods Geoff to talk about his relationship with Katya and his thoughts of her body being discovered, he admits that they pretended to be married to share a room in the more puritanical early 1960s, because of this the Swiss authorities consider Geoff is Katya's next of kin, Kate in troubled by this revelation. The days pass and party preparations continue, Geoff gets more moody and starts smoking, both he and Kate had given up, one night Geoff goes into the attic in the middle of the night, Kate insists and he reluctantly shows her a picture of Katya, Kate begins to ponder all her life with Geoff. While Geoff attends a reunion luncheon at the plant from which he retired, Kate ignores the dog barking and goes into the attic to see what Geoff keeps, she finds a scrapbook filled with memorabilia from his life with Katya, and a carousel slide projector and a makeshift screen, she sees images of Switzerland and Katya, including one slide where Katya has her hand on her protruding abdomen, indicating she was pregnant at the time of her death. Kate starts smoking also, and without telling what she has seen, confronts Geoff about his feelings for Katya,he promises their marriage will "start again", he begins with bringing up her tea in bed and bringing breakfast for the morning. Kate and Geoff attend their anniversary at the historical Grand Hall, Kate is quiet and expresses almost no emotion, even during his speech where he professes his love for Kate, where he breaks into tears, just as Kate's friend Lena (Geraldine James) predicted men always do. Geoff and Kate dance to the song that played at their wedding forty-five years ago, she is stiff in his embrace, the dance ends and Geoff raises their hands together, Kate yanks her arm down seconds after, the final close-up sees Kate in the middle of the crowd on the dance floor with a multitude of emotions on her face. Also starring Dolly Wells as Sally, David Sibley as George, Richard Cunningham as Mr. Watkins and Sam Alexander as Chris the Postman. Rampling does give a great performance as the concerned and eventually crushed wife, Courtenay is also great as the husband pretending to carry on as if nothing is wrong, both are totally convincing as two people who have been together for a long time. The whole film is low-key and plays out fairly slowly, but that is exactly the point, it really draws you in with the marriage in crisis situation brought about by the news of the husband's previous love who to fell to her death and the wife making the devastating discoveries, it is simple, naturalistic, insightful and heartbreaking, and overall a compelling must see drama. It was nominated the BAFTA for the Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film. Very good!