After a drunken house party with his straight mates, Russell heads out to a gay club. Just before closing time he picks up Glen but what's expected to be just a one-night stand becomes something else, something special.
Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
In a Russian coastal town, Kolya is forced to fight the corrupt mayor when he is told that his house will be demolished. He recruits a lawyer friend to help, but the man's arrival brings further misfortune for Kolya and his family.
Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff Mercer (Sir Tom Courtenay) are planning to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary with dozens of friends. The event is to take place soon in the community hall of Norwich, the town near which they live. A week before the party, Geoff receives a letter which, although he tries to hide it, obviously troubles him. When his wife asks him what is going on, Geoff tells her that the body of Katya, his first great love who disappeared fifty years before in the Alps, has just been found in a melting glacier. From then on, Geoff starts behaving more and more strangely and for the first time after so many years Kate asks herself who the man she married so long ago really is.Written by
Charlotte Rampling and Sir Tom Courtenay appeared in Night Train to Lisbon (2013). See more »
Geoff's friend says he's learning the ukulele (which is a small guitar) with the website Justin Guitar, as it's a good instrument for playing any music - not just George Formby. Although it was often said that Formby played the ukulele, his instrument was in fact a banjolele (a small banjo body with a fretted ukulele neck). See more »
It feels slow, but '45 Years' is rich in depth of storytelling and acting
The life of an old married couple doesn't exactly sound like riveting cinematic fodder, especially for moviegoers below the age of 65, but "45 Years" captures the mechanics of relationships, mechanics that are universal and span multiple generations.
The greatest indicator that "45 Years" isn't some niche geriatric film is director Andrew Haigh, a much younger director who is best known for making LGBTQ films, namely 2011's "Weekend." So, as someone who isn't a heterosexual senior, Haigh brings a different perspective to this story, along with a lot of grace and brilliant directorial instincts.
"45 Years" introduces us to Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) Mercer one week before their big 45th anniversary party. Although the week begins routine as usual, they receive quite a shock when Geoff gets a letter informing him that the body of a woman whom he loved as a younger man (before he met Kate) who died in an accident had been found (somewhat preserved in ice). The news absolutely rattles Geoff into a rather nostalgic daze, while Kate tries to come to terms with the weight of something she had shrugged off for nearly half a century.
We watch the story unfold from Kate's perspective, which keeps Geoff's thoughts and emotions an enigma and allows us to firmly plant ourselves in Kate's shoes. We also get glimpses of their relationship dynamic, which is powerfully authentic and relatable, adding another layer to what seems like it should be a rather simple conflict to resolve, but grows in chilling complexity.
Haigh's camera is quiet, careful and poised. There are wide shots and close-ups alike, along with methodical zooms, giving the actors — especially Rampling — incredible space to work. The result is a slow and yes, perhaps boring film at times, but if you really focus on the performances, the pacing becomes strangely irrelevant. We are given so much time to dive into Kate's headspace and Rampling provides these incredible cues once we're there.
The best way to describe the flow of "45 Years" is to liken it to a thawing. From the outdoor scenery around their quaint home in the British countryside to the details of Geoff's love "Katya" (notice the name similarity to his current wife) being found in ice, there's a notion that what was frozen in the past has now finally melted, that spring is coming and with it so much more. Kate and Geoff's relationship is at this melting point, and how they handle it will mean everything.
For such a simple film, there's something deeply unsettling about "45 Years" and that achievement alone suggests Haigh has struck some deep chords in this exploration of a relationship. We look to couples who have been married this long for inspiration and comfort, yet Haigh doesn't give it to us, and it raises a lot of really valuable questions. So it might not be easy to enjoy, but "45 Years" is truly a superb film and important character study.
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