Kate and Geoff Mercer 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
In several scenes, Tom Courtenay's character drinks his tea from a Hull City AFC mug. Courtenay is the President of the Hull City Official Supporters' Club. 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 »
William Shakespeare wrote (Sonnet 116), "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove: O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken." Though Shakespeare would not admit impediments to the marriage of true minds, Kate and Geoff Mercer in Andrew Haigh's ("Weekend") 45 Years find that their marriage may be on shakier grounds than they thought when a letter arrives in the mail that causes them to question the truth of their lifelong connection. Winners of the Silver Berlin Bear at the 2015 Berlinale, Charlotte Rampling ("The Forbidden Room,") and Tom Courtenay, ("Night Train to Lisbon") deliver remarkably enduring performances as the childless couple looking forward to the celebration of their 45th wedding anniversary until it is upstaged by an unwanted reminder of the past.
Based on David Constantine's short story "In Another Country," the film is set in the flatlands of Eastern England and takes place in the course of one week, delineated by intertitles. It is restrained and subtle yet manages to convey deep emotional hurt without shouting matches or theatrics. The couple, now in their declining years, live a comfortable life close to the town of Norwich, famous for Julian of Norwich, a 14th-century mystic and author of the first published book in the English language written by a woman. Most days consist of mundane events such as Kate taking the dog Max for walks in the countryside, both going into town to do some shopping, or joining friends on a riverboat excursion.
Their world is turned upside down, however, when only one week before their anniversary, Geoff receives a letter telling him that the body of Katia, his first love, has been discovered, preserved under the ice on a Swiss mountain where she died in an accident fifty years ago. Although this happened before Geoff and Kate met, the letter leaves them both shaken. Outwardly oblivious to the harm the revelation has caused, his actions show that it has affected him deeply. He resorts to smoking again after many years, looks in the attic for old photos of Katia, thinks of going to Switzerland to identify the body, and wanders aimlessly in the town.
When Kate finds out that Geoff is officially listed as Katia's next of kin and uncovers a very revealing photo of Katia from the past, she begins to question whether or not their relationship was based on a lie. Although the film is told from Kate's point of view, Haigh refuses to comment on the rightness or wrongness of the circumstances and does not question the way in which the characters react, content to observe rather than judge. Geoff and Kate go through the motions of planning for the party as if nothing has happened but there is the ever present elephant in the room. Rampling's facial expressions, even when she is attempting to hide her feelings, reveal deep-seated weariness and pain.
There are no heroes or villains in the film. Shot with loving attention to the silent vistas of the English countryside, 45 Years conveys a sense of isolation, of two people being together yet growing apart, a dream that has been shattered, and a lifetime of security undermined by a moment of doubt. It is a thorny subject but beautifully told with gentleness and love.
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