Is there anything more insidious than a secret?
Kate and Geoff Mercer (Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay) lead a quiet and charmingly simple life in the country. She walks the dog daily, chatting with townsfolk, he listens to the radio and promises to fix that bloody toilet once and for all. It’s the kind of life we all strive to live for.
In the week leading up to Kate and Geoff’s 45th wedding anniversary, he receives a letter with some shocking news; the body of his first love of 50 years ago has been found in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps. Geoff is in shock and feels remorse for not having told Kate about this first love romance but Kate’s response is fair and logical (“I can hardly be cross with something that happened before we existed, can I?”). This would be true, of course, were it not for the fact that things in our past can often find their way and infiltrate our present and future. In just a matter of days, fear and mistrust infect the Mercers like a virus. Geoff becomes obsessed with digging up photos and remnants of this life long past, Kate tries to continue the preparation of the party while trying to uncover a truth she feels she needs to know.
The film was written and directed by Andrew Haigh who made the brilliant film Weekend. Both films have a remarkable similarity in that they deal almost solely with just two people and their relationship; one of 45 years, one of two days, and it’s the things that are said and go unsaid that bring or tear people apart. 45 Years is a gorgeously observed film, one of restraint and thoughtful care to its characters.
Sometimes we define GREAT acting in terms of big gestures, emotional breakdowns and plate-smashing antics. In 45 Years, Tom Courtenay’s modulated and fine-line balance of regression and fear is brilliant. Charlotte Rampling is quietly devastating. Her face is a canvas of expression and is the culmination of a brilliant career. It’s the performance of a lifetime. The final shot of the film is so breath-taking you’ll be revisiting it for days to come.