In the week before their 45th wedding anniversary, a couple receive an unexpected letter which contains potentially life changing news.

United Kingdom, 2015 – Rated PG – 94 minutes
Directed by Andrew Haigh
Cast: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James

Screened on GREAT MOVIE WEDNESDAY, February 3, 2016

British acting legends Charlotte Rampling (The Forbidden Room, Never Let Me Go) and Tom Courtenay (The Legend of Barney Thomson, Quartet) star in writer-director Andrew Haigh’s much-anticipated followup to his acclaimed indie hit Weekend, an immensely moving portrait of a long-term marriage that is suddenly disrupted by a ghost from the past.

Retired couple Geoff (Courtenay) and Kate Mercer (Rampling) pass their days quietly on their country property near a small Norfolk village. One day, Geoff receives a letter notifying him that the body of an old girlfriend of his has been discovered, perfectly preserved in the Swiss Alps where she fell on their hiking trip nearly fifty years earlier. As the news sinks in, hidden tensions begin to emerge between the couple: though not insensitive to his wife’s feelings, Geoff finds himself helplessly drawn back into the past, while Kate becomes consumed by jealousy and uncertainty. Outwardly composed as she sets about planning their upcoming forty-fifth wedding anniversary, Kate begins to contemplate the “what ifs” of her life — which gradually leads her to the realization that maybe it was she who made a mistake all those years ago.

Favouring small moments and telling details over contrived confrontations and dramatic high points, Haigh builds slowly and naturally to the film’s poignant finale, while Courtenay and Rampling deliver performances that can easily be counted among the best in their respective careers. At once restrained and powerful, 45 Years is a reminder of film’s ability to encompass a lifetime of emotion and experience within a mere ninety minutes.

Superbly nuanced performances from Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay and exquisite direction by Andrew Haigh, who also co-wrote the film, turn an apparently everyday story of a marriage in quiet crisis into something rather extraordinary.

Mark Kermode, The Guardian