45 Years

(2015)

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Title:
45 Years
Release Date:
28th August 2015
Runtime:
95 min
MPAA Rating:
R
Genres:
Directors:
Andrew Haigh
Writers:
Andrew Haigh, David Constantine
Languages:
English
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

There is just one week until Kate Mercer's forty-fifth wedding anniversary and the planning for the party is going well. But then a letter arrives for her husband. The body of his first love has been discovered, frozen and preserved in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps. By the time the party is upon them, five days later, there may not be a marriage left to celebrate.

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 97%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 68%
IMDb Rating 7.1

Casts

Charlotte Rampling as Kate Mercer
David Sibley as George
Dolly Wells as Sally
Tom Courtenay as Geoff Mercer

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Ashwin Hegde 15th November, 2015

A novel that should have been a short story

A sequence of events in the run up to a big celebration of the couple's 45th anniversary. An unexpected letter with some unsettling news that pulls, just a little, at the seams of the marriage. Scenic English country side outside a historic market town. Accomplished performances by all of the cast. Charming British accents. Lovely camera work. Tight scripting & dialogs that brings out the affections and tensions of a long, childless marriage. All of this points to an engaging movie, and it is. Except, there isn't enough in it. It's like someone took the plot of a short story and decided to spin it out into a novel and you wish they hadn't. It's like a samosa where they skimped on the aloo. It is worth a watch, just about, especially on a day where you feel your life has been too dramatic and you want to tamp it down a little.

Reviewed by Howard Schumann 28th September, 2015

Beautifully told

William Shakespeare wrote (Sonnet 116), "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove: O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken." Though Shakespeare would not admit impediments to the marriage of true minds, Kate and Geoff Mercer in Andrew Haigh's ("Weekend") 45 Years find that their marriage may be on shakier grounds than they thought when a letter arrives in the mail that causes them to question the truth of their lifelong connection. Winners of the Silver Berlin Bear at the 2015 Berlinale, Charlotte Rampling ("The Forbidden Room,") and Tom Courtenay, ("Night Train to Lisbon") deliver remarkably enduring performances as the childless couple looking forward to the celebration of their 45th wedding anniversary until it is upstaged by an unwanted reminder of the past. Based on David Constantine's short story "In Another Country," the film is set in the flatlands of Eastern England and takes place in the course of one week, delineated by intertitles. It is restrained and subtle yet manages to convey deep emotional hurt without shouting matches or theatrics. The couple, now in their declining years, live a comfortable life close to the town of Norwich, famous for Julian of Norwich, a 14th-century mystic and author of the first published book in the English language written by a woman. Most days consist of mundane events such as Kate taking the dog Max for walks in the countryside, both going into town to do some shopping, or joining friends on a riverboat excursion. Their world is turned upside down, however, when only one week before their anniversary, Geoff receives a letter telling him that the body of Katia, his first love, has been discovered, preserved under the ice on a Swiss mountain where she died in an accident fifty years ago. Although this happened before Geoff and Kate met, the letter leaves them both shaken. Outwardly oblivious to the harm the revelation has caused, his actions show that it has affected him deeply. He resorts to smoking again after many years, looks in the attic for old photos of Katia, thinks of going to Switzerland to identify the body, and wanders aimlessly in the town. When Kate finds out that Geoff is officially listed as Katia's next of kin and uncovers a very revealing photo of Katia from the past, she begins to question whether or not their relationship was based on a lie. Although the film is told from Kate's point of view, Haigh refuses to comment on the rightness or wrongness of the circumstances and does not question the way in which the characters react, content to observe rather than judge. Geoff and Kate go through the motions of planning for the party as if nothing has happened but there is the ever present elephant in the room. Rampling's facial expressions, even when she is attempting to hide her feelings, reveal deep-seated weariness and pain. There are no heroes or villains in the film. Shot with loving attention to the silent vistas of the English countryside, 45 Years conveys a sense of isolation, of two people being together yet growing apart, a dream that has been shattered, and a lifetime of security undermined by a moment of doubt. It is a thorny subject but beautifully told with gentleness and love.

Reviewed by davidgee 9th September, 2015

Three people in this marriage (one of them's dead)

A bitter-sweet love story, more bitter than sweet. With their 45th wedding anniversary looming, Norfolk pensioners Kate and Geoff Mercer get a letter that tells them the body of Geoff's first great love has been found in a glacier in Switzerland. I thought for a moment that this was going to be a murder mystery, but it's not. The tragedy was accidental (she fell into a crevasse), but the dead woman now casts a huge shadow over their anniversary plans, and over their marriage. We see the couple in Norwich city centre, on a boat trip on the Broads and at parties with friends (Geraldine James delivers solid support as Kate's best friend, blessed/cursed with a ukulele-playing husband), but this is essentially a 'chamber piece', with most of the scenes concentrated around Kate and Geoff in their dinky little cottage on the edge of a small village. There's a bedroom scene which is both touching and cringe-making. Out of bed as well as in, Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling give performances that make you feel every moment of their love and their pain. Rampling is mesmerising in wordless scenes, searingly conveying Kate's inner turmoil; her face in the final frame suggests that the end of the movie is very much not the end of the story. The pace is slow, intentionally so. Not a movie for fans of high-octane action or smutty farce, but if you have happy memories of THE GO-BETWEEN (remake shortly to be seen on BBCtv), you will savour this. I did.

Reviewed by rogerdarlington 6th September, 2015

Melancholic but mesmerising

titular four and half decades and we meet them less than a week before a party to celebrate this special anniversary. That morning, Geoff receives a letter in German which over the next few days provokes a profound re-evaluation of their marriage. Although based on a short story of only 12 pages by David Constantine, the cinematic translation has all sorts of subtle changes, notably adopting the female rather than the male viewpoint. Technically this is a wonderful film. It is shot entirely in the unusual ambiance of Norfolk and writer/director Andrew Haigh offers us many long shots of the flat terrain and even flatter broads. Above all, the acting is superb with both Courtenay and (especially) Rampling at the top of their game. The final scene, focused so long on Rampling's face is as evocative as anything since the camera clung to Geta Garbo's visage at the conclusion of "Queen Christina". Emotionally, however, this is a tough piece of work. It is so slow, so understated, and ultimately so profoundly melancholic. In the cinema, my wife and I - together for three and a half decades - were surrounded people of the same vintage, most of them couples. I think that we were all looking for an affirmation that living with the same person decade after decade after decade, in spite of its trials and tribulations and irritations, is richly rewarded by so many shared memories and such deep love. This is not that film.

Reviewed by Ilpo Hirvonen 22nd August, 2015

The Sudden Emergence of the Past

Andrew Haigh's latest film "45 Years" (2015) is one of the big film events of this year and not least because of the memorable performances of its two leading actors, Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. It's a very simple film, granted, but exceptionally good as such. Both performers do an excellent job. Haigh's narrative is character-driven and never self-aware. All seems to be subjected to what is going on inside these characters. The film has been shot in the beautiful English countryside whose unreliable and unpredictable weather plays an integral role in the drama of untold memories, hidden emotions, and their appearance. It is a moving film about time and the complex relations between the past and the present. The story centers around a retired, childless couple, Kate (Rampling) and Geoff (Courtenay) who have been married for 45 years. One day Geoff receives a letter telling him that the body of his ex-lover before his marriage, Katya, has been found fully preserved in the Swiss glaciers. This event as well as the approaching arrival of their 45th anniversary coerces the couple into re-evaluating their relationship, the choices they have made in life, and their deepest desires. This story, based on a short story by David Constantine, is itself great in its simplicity, but Haigh also deals with it in an exquisite fashion. He has chosen not just the perfect performers for the roles but also the perfect milieu of the English countryside which works as a barometer for the characters' emotions. Haigh utilizes a moving camera and lingering, though not strikingly long, shots. He uses a wide range of different shots ranging from long full shots of the landscapes to medium close-ups of Kate's seemingly calm face which encapsulates her powerful eyes where a lot of emotion is going on that she is unable to express in words or gestures. Repeatedly, Haigh places Rampling wandering in the milieu, defining the character's relationship with the space that surrounds her. These scenes may strike as excessive to some, but one ought to relate them to the 45 years, to the time that is embodied in these five days before the anniversary celebration. The title of the film refers to a time gone by, but the film takes place strictly (that is, flashbacks are excluded) in the present. The past finds form in the memory of Katya, the ghost in the couple's life who Kate never really knew. Katya, as the embodiment of the past, is a threat to the presence. It is as if she mocked the living in her death that has saved her from aging unlike Kate and Geoff. Geoff also takes a sudden interest in climate change, a powerful symbol not only for the slow eruption of drama for the couple but also the emergence of Katya, the past, beneath the surface. In a key scene, where Kate goes to their attic to study Geoff's old travel photos from the trip to Switzerland where Katya died, the slide projector -- offering the truths from the past -- is the only source of light and sound in an otherwise dark and silent present. In the long take, which covers the whole scene, we can sense the danger of the past swallowing the present, the danger of Kate falling into the glacier that once engulfed Katya. Overall, "45 Years" is an extremely simple film. It bears no social nor metaphysical connotations. Formal elements serve the development of drama and character psychology. One can't really, however, talk about the subordination of style for the service of story because the external story is veritably marginal. It is, above all, an inner drama, taking place inside the characters. In all its simplicity, "45 Years" is a subtle, yet emotionally bursting film about the fragility, incompleteness, and vulnerability of life and love which have already lasted through a lot and grown in the process.