Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

United Kingdom 2015
Directed by
Andrew Haigh
96 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
4 stars

45 Years

Synopsis: Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) is about to celebrate her 45th wedding anniversary with husband, Geoff (Tom Courtenay). But then Geoff receives a letter saying the body of his first love, Katya, who fell down a crevasse in the Swiss Alps 50 years ago, has been found. As Geoff starts to reminisce continuously about the past, Kate, initially supportive and curious, gradually descends into jealousy.

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtney have been around for so long, our familiarity with them helps to make the Mercers feel like people we know and this is fundamental because Kate and Geoff know each other inside out. The pedestrian details of their daily lives are the underpinnings of their long relationship but progressively the past threatens to overtake their lives. Comfortable companionship gives way to tension as it soon becomes evident that Geoff has not always been as open as he could have been with Kate. There are important things in his relationship with Katya that he never revealed before and his venting now simply stirs up the green-eyed monster of jealousy in Kate’s heart. In this respect it is important that the Mercers are childless although the reasons for this are never revealed, something which makes revelations near the film’s end even more potent.

The film moves quietly and in a measured fashion, with sur-titles telling us where we are in the week leading up to the party. Most of the focus is on Kate and Geoff  but there is a lovely performance by Geraldine James as Kate’s best friend, Lena. Whether Kate over-reacts or is in fact justified in her anger is open to interpretation. I’d imagine most viewers, especially women, would say the film supports the importance of openness in a marriage and that Geoff is typical of men who bury things, forever, they believe, not realising the depth of trust they have breached. 

Like many of the best films the use of music is critical. Little, if any, general background music is used, but the individual songs featured throughout are evocative of the time in which the couple met and married although pop classics like the Platter’s "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” and The Turtles' “Happy Together” acquire ironic undertones as things deteriorate. Gary Puckett and the Union’s Gap’s “Young Girl” brings an angry reaction from Kate who understands how it would take Geoff back to a momentous period of his life of which she was not a part.

The setting of the attic, where Geoff rummages and Kate makes discoveries amongst old scrapbooks and slides, is also significant, recalling former selves and the promise of what could have been compared to the often melancholy disappointment of what actually is.

At the very end we are left wondering what will happen to the couple from here on. Viewers may vary in their prognosis but all will know they have shared something so painful and truthful it will stay with them, sitting uneasily and, maybe for some marriages, even threateningly so.

From the insightful restrained scripting to the striking performances, and the unvarnished visual style this film is truly impressive stuff.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst