By Jamie Stewart
SYNOPSIS: The 45th anniversary of Kate and Geoff’s marriage is thrown into doubt, as the body of Geoff’s first love is found in the Swiss Alps.
45 Years, the follow-up to Andrew Haigh’s highly acclaimed film Weekend, follows Kate (played by Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff Mercer (played by Tom Courtenay), in the run up to the celebration of their 45th wedding anniversary.
Just a week before the party, Geoff receives a letter from officials, informing him that the body of his former love has been discovered in a glacier in the Swiss Alps, more than forty years after she fell to her death. The discovery of Katya’s body catapults Geoff’s marriage to Kate into doubt. Each day in the run up to the party, Geoff revisits the past, excavating a memory of lost love and longing, and despite having bypass surgery 5 years prior – begins smoking.
Kate becomes increasingly doubtful of her marriage to Geoff, and feeling the distance grow between them, sneaks into the attic where Geoff has hidden a scrapbook of his and Katya’s adventures. One of the most powerful scenes in the film features Kate flicking through projector slides of the youthful Katya against a Swiss lake.
Haigh directed and adapted the script from David Constantine’s short story ‘In Another Country’.
Among the suspicion and doubt, Kate and Geoff share a subtle tenderness that doesn’t present old age as overly sentimental or saccharine. The message is one of lost love and regret, but also of emotional companionship, and the complacency that comes with 45 years of marriage. This is apparent through an almost-sex scene, in which Geoff can’t seem to carry through.
The glaciers of the Swiss Alps, symbols of Geoff’s past and former love, are contrasted against the flat, wet countryside of Norfolk, which Kate walks over every day before the party. 45 Years explores ideas of lost love and secrets through their supposedly comfortable marriage.
Both Rampling and Courtenay won the Silver Bear for Best Actress and Actor respectively at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival.
The final shot is powerful, as Kate and Geoff dance to The Platters’ ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’. The music builds, and the final crescendo – along with Rampling’s powerful stare, is moving to say the least.
Jamie is from Manchester and likes reading, writing, eating and baking. You can find Jamie in a coffee shop or the library.