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The Sudden Emergence of the Past
ilpohirvonen22 August 2015
Andrew Haigh's latest film "45 Years" (2015) is one of the big film events of this year and not least because of the memorable performances of its two leading actors, Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. It's a very simple film, granted, but exceptionally good as such. Both performers do an excellent job. Haigh's narrative is character-driven and never self-aware. All seems to be subjected to what is going on inside these characters. The film has been shot in the beautiful English countryside whose unreliable and unpredictable weather plays an integral role in the drama of untold memories, hidden emotions, and their appearance. It is a moving film about time and the complex relations between the past and the present.

The story centers around a retired, childless couple, Kate (Rampling) and Geoff (Courtenay) who have been married for 45 years. One day Geoff receives a letter telling him that the body of his ex-lover before his marriage, Katya, has been found fully preserved in the Swiss glaciers. This event as well as the approaching arrival of their 45th anniversary coerces the couple into re-evaluating their relationship, the choices they have made in life, and their deepest desires.

This story, based on a short story by David Constantine, is itself great in its simplicity, but Haigh also deals with it in an exquisite fashion. He has chosen not just the perfect performers for the roles but also the perfect milieu of the English countryside which works as a barometer for the characters' emotions. Haigh utilizes a moving camera and lingering, though not strikingly long, shots. He uses a wide range of different shots ranging from long full shots of the landscapes to medium close-ups of Kate's seemingly calm face which encapsulates her powerful eyes where a lot of emotion is going on that she is unable to express in words or gestures. Repeatedly, Haigh places Rampling wandering in the milieu, defining the character's relationship with the space that surrounds her. These scenes may strike as excessive to some, but one ought to relate them to the 45 years, to the time that is embodied in these five days before the anniversary celebration.

The title of the film refers to a time gone by, but the film takes place strictly (that is, flashbacks are excluded) in the present. The past finds form in the memory of Katya, the ghost in the couple's life who Kate never really knew. Katya, as the embodiment of the past, is a threat to the presence. It is as if she mocked the living in her death that has saved her from aging unlike Kate and Geoff. Geoff also takes a sudden interest in climate change, a powerful symbol not only for the slow eruption of drama for the couple but also the emergence of Katya, the past, beneath the surface. In a key scene, where Kate goes to their attic to study Geoff's old travel photos from the trip to Switzerland where Katya died, the slide projector -- offering the truths from the past -- is the only source of light and sound in an otherwise dark and silent present. In the long take, which covers the whole scene, we can sense the danger of the past swallowing the present, the danger of Kate falling into the glacier that once engulfed Katya.

Overall, "45 Years" is an extremely simple film. It bears no social nor metaphysical connotations. Formal elements serve the development of drama and character psychology. One can't really, however, talk about the subordination of style for the service of story because the external story is veritably marginal. It is, above all, an inner drama, taking place inside the characters. In all its simplicity, "45 Years" is a subtle, yet emotionally bursting film about the fragility, incompleteness, and vulnerability of life and love which have already lasted through a lot and grown in the process.
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Melancholic but mesmerising
rogerdarlington6 September 2015
titular four and half decades and we meet them less than a week before a party to celebrate this special anniversary. That morning, Geoff receives a letter in German which over the next few days provokes a profound re-evaluation of their marriage. Although based on a short story of only 12 pages by David Constantine, the cinematic translation has all sorts of subtle changes, notably adopting the female rather than the male viewpoint.

Technically this is a wonderful film. It is shot entirely in the unusual ambiance of Norfolk and writer/director Andrew Haigh offers us many long shots of the flat terrain and even flatter broads. Above all, the acting is superb with both Courtenay and (especially) Rampling at the top of their game. The final scene, focused so long on Rampling's face is as evocative as anything since the camera clung to Geta Garbo's visage at the conclusion of "Queen Christina".

Emotionally, however, this is a tough piece of work. It is so slow, so understated, and ultimately so profoundly melancholic. In the cinema, my wife and I - together for three and a half decades - were surrounded people of the same vintage, most of them couples. I think that we were all looking for an affirmation that living with the same person decade after decade after decade, in spite of its trials and tribulations and irritations, is richly rewarded by so many shared memories and such deep love. This is not that film.
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Three people in this marriage (one of them's dead)
davidgee9 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
A bitter-sweet love story, more bitter than sweet. With their 45th wedding anniversary looming, Norfolk pensioners Kate and Geoff Mercer get a letter that tells them the body of Geoff's first great love has been found in a glacier in Switzerland.

I thought for a moment that this was going to be a murder mystery, but it's not. The tragedy was accidental (she fell into a crevasse), but the dead woman now casts a huge shadow over their anniversary plans, and over their marriage.

We see the couple in Norwich city centre, on a boat trip on the Broads and at parties with friends (Geraldine James delivers solid support as Kate's best friend, blessed/cursed with a ukulele-playing husband), but this is essentially a 'chamber piece', with most of the scenes concentrated around Kate and Geoff in their dinky little cottage on the edge of a small village. There's a bedroom scene which is both touching and cringe-making.

Out of bed as well as in, Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling give performances that make you feel every moment of their love and their pain. Rampling is mesmerising in wordless scenes, searingly conveying Kate's inner turmoil; her face in the final frame suggests that the end of the movie is very much not the end of the story.

The pace is slow, intentionally so. Not a movie for fans of high-octane action or smutty farce, but if you have happy memories of THE GO-BETWEEN (remake shortly to be seen on BBCtv), you will savour this. I did.
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Beautifully told
howard.schumann28 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
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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It feels slow, but '45 Years' is rich in depth of storytelling and acting
Movie_Muse_Reviews21 February 2016
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.

~Steven C

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Beautifully restrained, ultimately heartbreaking
Lubezki6 January 2016
"45 Years" is a great demonstration on how to evoke so many layers of emotion and inner turmoil with a fairly simple filmmaking approach. These types of stories have been told lots of times and probably a bit better (Mike Leigh promptly comes to mind). But what director Andrew Haigh does here which provides the film it's gut wrenching sensation is that he writes these characters with so much depth and naturalism that the events that slowly unravel begin to make the film more and more despondent as it goes on.

Here we have a happily married couple getting ready to celebrate a milestone 45 year anniversary, only for an untimely piece of news regarding Geoff's (Tom Courtenay) past flame whom has passed away, which puts a spanner in the works. Being such a long time ago it would be feasible to think that this won't affect their current relationship, but suddenly all these memories come storming back and he suddenly gets caught in a sort of time warp. He brings her up at every opportunity, he can't stop talking about her. And this is where the film skillfully shifts it's focus onto Kate's (Charlotte Rampling) character. What she once thought was a perfect marriage filled with unbridled endearment immediately turns into a self-doubting thought process. Does he really love me? Am I his one and only?

Rampling is just extraordinary. Subtle in her expressions and exterior but inside the hurt is palpable. No showy antics, no histrionics - simply a masterclass in masking her grief. Haigh uses the bleak Norfolk countryside to great effect, placing her in the center of surroundings that perfectly illustrate what she's feeling -- forlornness and heartache. Courtenay is excellent as well, though not quite as affecting. But what he does brilliantly is convey the actions of an individual that can't quite come to terms with this news and it sets off a chain reaction of resorting to bad old habits and outlandish behavior.

The final scene however couldn't have been crafted any better if they tried. Whilst directed with so much grace and acted wonderfully by Courtenay with his anniversary speech, it was Rampling who elevated it to devastating effect . The words may have been music to the ears for many, but for her it was just so bittersweet because she didn't feel that same affection. She displays a multitude of emotions throughout; smiling, laughing, sorrow, melancholy. Her mind is constantly in a state of befuddlement. What should be one of the greatest nights of her life is far from it. And then the dance, which honestly made me tear up. Not only for Ramplings acting and heartbreaking final shot, but the lyrics to the song pretty much summed up everything that was destroying her;

"When that lovely flame dies Smoke gets in your eyes"

Their marriage may live on, but it will now always be shrouded with her belief that her husband doesn't hold the same love for her that he once had, and this woman from days gone by will always be present for the rest of their lives.

"45 Years" is a slow burning, intricately designed exploration of the underlying grief us humans undergo when in tough times. It's both beautiful and harrowing, aided by incredible performances.
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marriage shaken by revelation of husband's old affair
maurice_yacowar2 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Andrew Haigh's 45 Years is a seismograph of internal feelings, suppressions and revelations.

From his first remark, "My Katya," Kate feels her relationship undermined. He hasn't forgotten his first great love, nor fully informed her. As she later says, she fears he did not think she was wife enough for him. Perhaps it was in order to shield her from such discomfiting knowledge, Geoff kept back secrets from her, including that Katya died pregnant and that they had passed themselves off as married. His protection — ostensibly of his wife but perhaps primarily of himself — over the years undercuts her trust and security now.

The discovery of a body buried in ice is the film's most compelling metaphor. It signifies any secret or passion attempted to be hidden. Geoff didn't tell Kate enough about that relationship because he didn't want to confront it fully himself. Burial seems easier.

In her most crucial speech Kate says that Katya's constant but unrecognized presence in their marriage lay behind all their major and even minor decisions. Geoff bought her Katya's perfume, chose their holiday trips to avoid his Swiss memories and probably decided they would have dogs but not children. Having lost his first pregnant love he would not risk another. His aversion was contagious: Kate plans to buy him an anniversary watch but declines when the display is of Swiss watches.

So, too, Geoff's rejection of family photos. He preserves his cache of Katya pictures, however secreted in the attic, but they have not taken and hung pictures of Kate and him, or the dogs. The film's first metaphor occurs in the opening titles, which appear to the click of a slide projector. This sets up the attic scene where Kate discovers the slides of Katya, including the disturbing image of her pregnancy. The early scenes are in the shadow of that heard but unseen projector and the Katya truths it withholds.

The other major metaphor is fissure. Katya fell into a fissure in the glacier. Now her rediscovery creates a fissure in Geoff's and Kate's marriage. As Kate discovers Geoff's secrets she realizes she has had to bear the unequal share of their responsibilities. The third fissure is within Kate, as she incrementally falls out of love with Geoff and decides to escape their marriage. Once a teacher, now Kate learns a new truth about her marriage.

The breakup happens at their anniversary party, within the appearance of convivial celebration. Kate has expressed her desire to leave but urged him to go through with the party so others won't sense their fissure. He vows to "start again" — in the usual way: buying her a little necklace, bringing her tea in bed, making her scrambled eggs, shaving for the event and making the obligatory speech off love and gratitude, ending in the obligatory — and predicted — tears.

For most of the party Kate's gallant conduct and smiles suggest she may have forgiven him and is willing to start anew. But as they take the floor to dance to The Platters' Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, her demeanour subtlety changes. As Geoff dances with increasing flash and flair she seems to sense an empty performance in him, which may also reflect back upon his speech. At one of his flourishes she snatches her hand away and steps back, signifying the end of their dance, probably of their marriage. The smoke has cleared from her eyes and she sees that his entire devotion to her has been based upon deception, his denial of his lost passion.

She also realizes that she has put up with his falsity and inadequacy for too long. Kate has had to make all the accommodations to sustain their marriage while he did what he wanted and didn't do what he didn't want to do. She married him at 20, when he was older and on the rebound from Katya. Having just lost her mother, she was vulnerable for a marriage that granted her duties rather than rights. Some marriages are like that.

Several long shots show Kate as an isolated figure in the open landscape. But Geoff is always shot close-up and encased or framed. She is the open and expansive one, he the restrained and secretive. Hence his glasses, which hide his eyes, and his beard, which hides most of his face and which he removes only for the party, after he has been exposed.

When Geoff describes his German he says the nouns are easy but the verbs are hard. He knows what things are but not what their relationships are, what the nouns, whether people or objects, do to each other or what happens between them. Relationships, the verbs, are the obedient wife's preserve.

Nor is Geoff entirely without our sympathy. He does love his wife and has acted as much as his understanding would allow in her interests. When he decides not to go to Switzerland he seems finally to have come to terms with the secret he left partially buried for the 45 years. We can believe he is grateful for Kate and wants to continue their marriage.

There have probably not been this year two film performances as subtle and powerful as the two leads here. Had Rampling been allowed a vehement eruption she'd be a lock on the Oscar. But this film is all subtlety, her experience all interior, and her eruption no louder then stepping out of the Platters' dance. The film's stage or arena is clearly Kate, so we often get long closeups of her quiet, nuanced responses while Geoff speaks. Rampling's inflections are astonishing. If this were a novel, her fleeting glance at the ukulele player would by itself warrant five pages of description.

This film is a privilege.
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You never get to know anyone
Imdbidia13 May 2017
45 Years is a almost a theatrical film, with not many characters and a slow-burning, subtle but powerful exploration of couple dynamics, the nature of love and trust, the weight of the past on the present, and who truly are those people with whom we share our lives. There is also a pointy finger to the social façade that many couples show to the world, which is not always as rosy or perfect when they are behind closed doors.

We get to know this apparently exemplary couple, Geoff and Kate Mercer, who have been married for 45 years and are approaching the celebration of their 45th wedding anniversary, content with their lives, caring, and loving. Until some news related to Geoff's past arrive and open a Pandora's box filled of smells of another woman, a love story that was more powerful that initially seems, and the ramifications that the story had on Geoff's marrying Kate. After the box in open, we get to see the real nature and strength of their relationship.

One of the main virtues of the film is, paradoxically, one of its most bugging disappointments: the ambiguity of feelings the viewer experiences about the unfolding events.

We get to know the past story, and some of the ramifications on the Swiss love story on Geoff & Kate's love story. However, we don't know why a story that happened so long ago, before the couple met, is hitting Kate so harshly. We get to live, in a way, the same doubts and mixed feelings she feels about the sincerity and integrity of her husband's love, feelings, and openness in their relationship: was she a rebound or was he really in love with her when they married? Why did he hide everything? Why is he's still hiding things and laying about everything? Why is he so distressed about a person he met 40+ years ago? Can she really trust him?

On the other hand, we don't really know what is behind Geoff's secrecy and moodiness either: Did Geoff hide his past to Kate on purpose? Did he just want to put the past behind and move on afresh with her? Is his current behavior the result of his inability to deal with his emotions? Or is it a reminder of what life was and would have been like with the other woman? Does he really love Kate? Did he love Kate when he married her?

These annoying doubts create a subtle emotional tension that bugs you inside, without any dramatic scene needed to be created. After all, things that destroy a relationship the most aren't always the fights or dramas, but the unsettling feelings of distrust, disrespect, lack of communication and lack of openness of those people with whom we share our lives. At the end of the film, I found that it was OK for us not to know anything for sure. The lack of knowledge produces an unsettling feeling in the viewer, and you get to say (or at least I did) you can never get to know anybody fully, no matter s/he is your partner, parent or offspring, there is always more to any person than meets the eye, and you should never ask people for their secrets as you might not be able to deal with their answer.

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are great in their respective roles, looking their age and playing being elderly with grace and verisimilitude.
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A novel that should have been a short story
ahegde15 November 2015
A sequence of events in the run up to a big celebration of the couple's 45th anniversary. An unexpected letter with some unsettling news that pulls, just a little, at the seams of the marriage.

Scenic English country side outside a historic market town. Accomplished performances by all of the cast. Charming British accents. Lovely camera work. Tight scripting & dialogs that brings out the affections and tensions of a long, childless marriage. All of this points to an engaging movie, and it is.

Except, there isn't enough in it. It's like someone took the plot of a short story and decided to spin it out into a novel and you wish they hadn't. It's like a samosa where they skimped on the aloo. It is worth a watch, just about, especially on a day where you feel your life has been too dramatic and you want to tamp it down a little.
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A fantastic character study, greatly performed by two greats.
Sleepin_Dragon7 January 2016
Kate and Geoff are a mature couple enjoying a peaceful life, their 45 year wedding anniversary is soon approaching, but this sense of calm is broken when Geoff receives a letter, telling him that the body of his first wife Katya has been found in the Swiss mountains. We see the effects on Geoff an Kate during the lead up to their celebration.

It is a wonderful character study, with two acting legends, Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay, both showcasing their vast talents, as a combination the pairing are formidable, too many high caliber scenes to pick out any real specifics, although the living room dancing is expertly done.

A good supporting cast too, I'm biased towards Geraldine James, but as always she is fantastic. She doesn't try to overtake or overshadow, she's great.

It's a film I very much enjoyed, it belongs to a certain genre of films that often gets overlooked, one that could easily be dismissed as boring, but it is expertly done. A true gem with an acting masterclass. 8/10
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Great actors play out a well done story.
subxerogravity5 January 2016
The movie flows very slowly, but the two actors playing the leads did not bore me. They were really good at expressing the situation. The film in general played out very mundane but give lots of drama without overdoing it.

A few days before their 45th wedding anniversary Geoff and Kate are sitting in their house when Geoff receives a letter from Switzerland stating they found his first love. Basically the letter reminds him that, through no fault of his own Geoff lost his first love, and as he dwells on this fact Kate realizes this too.

The whole situation was done well and interestingly, as the two actors inside a small cottage for most of the movie react to the letter. Kate has to watch Geoff get lost in, not really regret but something that would have never been and it makes her think about what she met to him for the past 45 years.

It was a really good movie, very impress how they could keep the story so real and down to Earth and still hole the viewer.
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A Rare Gem of a Movie
JohnnyWeissmuller25 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Kate and Geoff live a quite and seemingly normal life in the country until Geoff receives a letter informing him that the body an old girlfriend, whom he travelled through Switzerland with, but was lost in climbing accident, has been found preserved in a glacier of ice. This happened before he met Charlotte Rampling's Kate, who immediately raises her eyebrows at the clarity in which Geoff, played by Tom Courtenay, recalls his time in the Swiss Alps. She's more concerned with arranging the party for her anniversary than digging up the past, but that's what spurs Geoff into life, as he picks up old habits and develops a fascination with his loft. In stark contrast, suspicion and jealously soon begins to grow in Kate, who feels pushed aside in favour of someone she didn't even know.

In some ways, 45 Years is shot like a mystery or a crime film, with the days chartered appropriately in this regard, although there's an overwhelming feeling of Gothic horror abound, but without the Gothic overtones. It's set in the Norfolk Broads, after all, but Kate and Geoff's country cottage could be the house of Usher given the secrets that lie beneath. The performances are exemplary, of course, whilst the staging and framing is that of a director at the top of his game. Both visually and with regards to the diegetic soundtrack that tells the story of this couple's life. But how much of that was defined by Geoff's dead girlfriend? The film's parting shot is genuinely brilliant, with the camera focusing on Kate much in the same way it stayed on Bob Hoskins at the end of The Long Good Friday, or George Clooney in Michael Clayton, challenging audiences to stare into the mind of a character and draw our own conclusions.
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namashi_17 January 2016
Based on the short story In Another Country by David Constantine, '45 Years' is a Powerful human-drama, that is emotionally violent as well devastating. Great Performances add to the impact.

'45 Years' Synopsis: In the week leading up to their 45th wedding anniversary, a couple receive an unexpected letter which contains potentially life changing news.

'45 Years' is an extraordinary film, because it knows what it is: That begin an ugly love-story about a couple under shock. I was engrossed by the narrative thoroughly. Andrew Haigh's Writing is superb. This is Writing of the highest order. Haigh's Direction, on the other-hand, is tight, focused.

Performance-Wise: Charlotte Rampling & Tom Courtenay are at their finest. Rampling explodes in an emotionally devastating performance, that deserves serious awards consideration. Courtenay is first-rate, involving himself completely to the part. Its a delight to watch both of the veterans lighten up the screen.

On the whole, '45 Years' cannot be missed. Strongly Recommended!
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My Love has Gone Away
ferguson-622 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Greetings again from the darkness. Relationships are messy and complicated. Even the best ones. Even those that last 45 years. Writer/director Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 2011) understands this and delivers a film not about older people, but instead about the secrets, the doubts and the regrets experienced by anyone and everyone who is part of a committed relationship. His message is delivered through the extraordinary performances of Tom Courteney and especially Charlotte Rampling.

Just four days prior to a planned party to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary, the stillness and quiet of Geoff's and Kate's long-established familiarity is disrupted by the startling news that his girlfriend of 50 years ago has been discovered preserved in a Swiss glacier. What could have been a simple blip on the radar turns out to be a slow revelation of true emotions that have clouded this marriage. Kate's realization that her seemingly fine life is now undeniably tainted is gut-wrenching to behold.

Ms. Rampling's performance is subtle and brilliant. The camera captures the whirlwind of emotions through her facial expressions and telling body language. She carries herself with grace and dignity, even as she emotes devastation. A scruffy Mr. Courteney seems oblivious to how deeply his reaction has wounded his wife, even as he dives more and more into the past … a journal, a slideshow, smoking cigarettes, a trip to the travel agency.

Haigh's script and direction are such that the intimacy and personal pain is evident even in scenes that feature only one of the two leads. The lack of raised voices or outbursts belies the pain felt by both Geoff and Kate, and the pain is never more evident than when we finally reach the anniversary party. As Geoff delivers a rambling speech about the ups and downs of marriage, the camera equally captures the face of Kate as she expertly dons the façade required in public for those who are lost emotionally. The couple then dances to The Platters' "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and Kate's faces hides little of her internal turmoil. Haigh ends with one of the most soul-crushing final shots one could ever expect to see. It's the perfect ending to a dose of reality most of us hope to never experience.
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Brilliant and poignant
monimm189 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
At first I thought this movie was a bit slow or contemplative. No such thing, actually. Every moment has its own precise purpose, depicting and, at the same time, uncovering the truth about the 45 year long marriage of Kate and Geoff. The film starts with the couple, or rather just Kate, planning their 45 year wedding anniversary. Geoff seems a bit of an aloof guy, disinterested and irritated about everything and everyone, but Kate has the quiet loving patience of a woman who learned to see the good man underneath the grumpy appearance. Geoff perks up significantly when he receives news of the recovery of the body of his former girlfriend, Katya, who died in a tragic accident in Switzerland before Geoff ever met his wife. The news seems to agitate him to the point of arousing Kate's suspicions. As the film progresses Kate's fearful investigations reveal that Katya was also pregnant with Geoff's child when she died, and she begins to understand how much Geoff loved her. We realize that he told her very little about Katya, hiding from her how important Katya was to him and how completely shattered he was by her death. But most of all, that he selfishly spent 45 years married to a woman he took for granted and didn't allow himself to truly love or even enjoy life because he was emotionally stuck in his past tragic experience that he subconsciously grieved about for the rest of his life. In a poignant moment, Kate tells him what she learned and how hurt and confused she was about being married to a man who, she feared, might have been dishonest and not loved her as much as she thought. Her words seem to have a catalytic effect on Geoff, who maybe realizes he has had 45 years with a wonderful woman that deserved much more. As if truly seeing her for the first time he offers her heartfelt reassuring words and from that moment he behaves cheerfully and attentively towards her, including holding a speech filled with loving gratitude at their anniversary party. Kate seems willing to believe him, until the coup de grace - the dance. While planning the anniversary party Kate chose "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", as the opening dance song, because it was what Geoff chose as their wedding song 45 years ago. As the couple danced, we hear the lyrics and we see Kate paying attention to them too, as if for the first time. They're the words of someone grieving for their lost love, and in the context of what she learned about Katya, Kate finally faces the cruel and irreparable truth: her husband's choice for their wedding song was about his grieving for another woman, and the 45 years of her marriage were spent with a man who longed for someone else.
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Critics flummoxed by lugubrious tale of aging couple beset by negligible crisis
Turfseer29 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
With nary a critical word to be found amongst the fawners in the film critics' pantheon, 45 Years has gone on to receive a surfeit of undeserved approbation in such places as Metacritic, with an unbelievable "metascore" of 94. My first reaction to this onslaught of film critic stupidity was simply to ask, "How can this be?"

45 Years may be infected with a simple case of being "too British." Now don't get me wrong—I love quite a number of British films, which often prove superior to their American counterparts. But when a film ends up being "too British," it often suffers from glacial pacing and a rather dry demeanor which 45 Years obviously suffers from throughout.

But there are plenty of films featuring lugubrious plots with humorless characters that still remain compelling. What's needed of course is a plot that goes somewhere, and characters that manage to avoid being pejoratively labeled as "sad sacks." Unfortunately, 45 Years avoids none of this and more!

It's all supposed to be about some kind of marital crisis that befalls an aging, childless couple by the name of Kate and Geoff Mercer who live in the flatlands of Norfolk, in eastern England. Kate and Geoff's idyllic existence is suddenly shattered when Geoff receives a letter that his ex-girlfriend Katya's body, lost in an Alpine hiking accident 50 years earlier, has been suddenly found perfectly preserved inside a glacier in the Swiss Alps.

Andrew Haigh, the writer-director here, apparently was quite enamored with this gimmick of an inciting incident which he conscripted from a short story entitled Another Country. Haigh's idea is to show how Kate's perspective on the marriage changes after new information comes to light regarding Geoff's relationship with the ex-girlfriend.

Geoff remains what he's been all along: a curmudgeon. He can't understand why Kate should be upset over a relationship he was involved in years ago. The revelation that Katya took his surname bothers Kate but not Geoff, who merely takes to smoking cigarettes to assuage the anxiety he's experiencing over Kate's growing dissatisfaction with him. Oh yes, he's a bit of a lefty too as it's revealed that he once called Kate's friend a "fascist," during a political discussion that got out of hand.

As for Kate, one wonders why she should be upset over something that happened fifty years earlier. It's mainly the principle of Geoff not being honest with her. But she appears to throw her principles out the window when she surreptitiously and underhandedly goes up to the attic and views some old slides of Katya, taken by Geoff right before the accident. There, (simmering with jealousy), she spies a close-up picture of Katya, visibly pregnant.

While all this is going on, the couple is getting ready for their 45th wedding anniversary. Kate simply has to put on a good face while the couple is finally heralded by all their friends at the actual banquet. Kate's "new perspective" on her marriage is the "big" revelation that we're supposed to get excited about.

The critics use big words to describe what is really a simple change in circumstances: "devastating truth," a "sensitive and devastating portrait of a long, happy marriage in sudden crisis," "quietly moving and deceptively tragic," a story "about whether secrets can be survived," "two people haunted by a specter from another lifetime," "deep reserves of inner torment." You get the picture!

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay can do little with the material foisted upon them and the viewer only perks up when one or another nostalgic tune from the 60s pops up intermittently on the film's soundtrack.

In the end, the critics would like you to believe that 45 Years represents the second coming of Ingmar Bergman. Nothing could be further than the truth. If your protagonists are deadly dull to begin with, and your inciting incident leads to the feeblest of epiphanies, then please explain to me what the critics' brouhaha is all about.
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Pretty sites and nice shots, but nothing happened
tim-6397824 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
And with 'Nothing happened' I mean that absolutely nothing happened. The best thing about this movie is the reviews that it received. No idea why.

The movie is as tedious and slow as movies in the fifties, has hardly any humor and every option the script gives for any action is left unused.

After Kate discovered that Katya was pregnant, ... nothing happens.

Even at the final event, their celebration, with all tension built up, Kate an emotional volcano en Geoff about to have a heart attack, ... nothing happens and end of movie....
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Dour is the only word
ianwarner-6832825 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
It felt like 45 years watching it. Rampling is OK without being stretched. Courtenay is awful. Nothing really happens in the film and it is fairly pointless. Two dull people, one little secret. I'm shocked that she did not already know most of his secrets. Can't have been a very good marriage. If this dull mess is anything to go by those 45 years must have felt like 300 years. Confused about its high-rating. Critics a different breed from ordinary folk? This film makes me sad that so many people have wasted 90 minutes of their actual lives watching it.
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quiet drama
SnoopyStyle24 December 2016
Kate (Charlotte Rampling) is preparing her 45th anniversary party married to Geoff Mercer (Tom Courtenay). They live comfortably childless in rural England. Geoff reveals something about a previous relationship with Katya who died long ago hiking a glacier but the body was only recently discovered. Kate is a little perplexed and struggles to understand the true nature of their relationship.

Charlotte Rampling is one of the greatest actresses around. I get the idea of an old couple with a secret. There isn't enough danger or drama for the tension to be truly raised. The major drama should occur after the big discovery. This is a quiet drama with buried emotions. I'm not complaining that nothing happens. It's just that the drama is interior and doesn't amount to that big. If you like quiet character study, this one is for you.
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45 centuries
petermartineditor12 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
That's what it felt like watching this stinker. All kinds of possibilities were contained in this snorefest, but none of them realized. The IMDb summation sounds much more intriguing than the film itself. Suffice it to say the "shocking" revelation -- the letter -- petered out in no time flat, and was ultimately meaningless. The final scene seemed to be leading towards a happy conclusion, a resolution... to show that "love ultimately prevails" or something along those lines... only to end with NO resolution whatsoever... and that Charlotte is still "cross" with Tom!

So what's the goddamn point!? Why end the movie here?? Was that supposed to be some kind of goddamn conclusion??? Why waste an hour and a half of my time if you're got absolutely no story and NOTHING to say???

Rampling and Courtenay are very natural. Natural but boring. Writer and director ought to be sent back to film school...and then shot.
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A tedious, unfocused film
john-59493 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is yet another movie grossly over-rated by the journalists, who apparently think that anything that shouts "sensitive" has to be first class. Well, this movie isn't. My wife and I, both well past our sell-by dates, went to see this and found it wearisome and cliché-ridden, full of longeurs, e. g., much driving, walking the dog, playing the piano, having breakfast. The dialogue was banal, and while Courtney and Rampling acted very well, there wasn't much they could do with such a dismal text. It also seemed one-sided: Kate Mercer (Rampling) was jealous of her husband's girl friend (pregnant) who died in an accident before she met Geoff (Courtney). There was no mention of any life, lover, or whatever in Kate's life before she met Geoff. The bedroom scene generated some sympathy for the actors, though not their characters, mainly because it seemed to patronize "geezer sex," and the dialogue was elliptical and mumbled. The film has just been released, and it is perhaps worth noting that there were many more empty seats than customers.
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Worst movie of the year
evito125 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Probably the worst movie I've seen all year. Tedious, boring, unfocused, no storyline pretty much sums it up.

Geoff gets a letter from Switzerland stating that the body of his former girlfriend Katya who fell off a cliff 50 years ago was found in a glacier. This news and Geoff's memories of the event terribly upset his current wife, Kate.

The movie basically lacks any type of story or storyline. I was expecting Geoff to go to Switzerland, I was expecting the marriage of the two to end in a divorce, I was expecting all kinds of things but the movie gives you none of it.

This story of Kate's jealousy basically lingers on for exactly 93 minutes (I was checking my watch about every 5 minutes, whenever I was able to keep my eyes open). People around me fell asleep during the movie as well. In all those 93 minutes however there is nothing which really happens, just her getting more and more jealous without any apparent reason, even at the final wedding party where Geoff makes an emotional and beautiful speech, she is still jealous.

3 out of 10 because the acting was more than decent and for showing us England's beauty.
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A movie about nothing
extremecraigfan2 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Unless I missed something, and I do not believe I did, this is definitely 'the movie about nothing'.

It dragged out one tiny little insignificant moment in time, one happening in a person's life, over a whole movie. If it was all consuming as it appears to be this marriage never would have lasted over the period of 45 years. If the point is how some hang on to a belief of something lost and what could have been....we get the point. But it certainly was bare bones for a movie, needed some meat and potatoes to go with it.

A time waster.
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The best film of 2015 so far
MOscarbradley27 September 2015
I have no doubt that in 70 years from now Andrew Haigh's new film will be as highly thought of as "Brief Encounter" is today. "Brief Encounter" dealt with a love affair that wasn't and the effect it had on a conventional middle-class marriage. "45 Years" is set within similar territory but here the disruptive love affair is, arguably, all the more powerful and its effect all the more devastating. It takes place over six days, Monday to Saturday, and begins when husband Geoff receives a letter in German informing him that the body of the girl he loved 50 years before, and who died in an accident in the Swiss mountains, had been found, presumably preserved in ice just as she was the day he lost her, and ends up at the party held to celebrate Geoff's 45 year marriage to Kate.

It's a love story, plain and simple, and is, in its quiet way, unbearably moving. As the days pass between the receipt of the letter and the planned party, Kate comes to realize that she might not have been first in Geoff's affections, let alone the great love of his life and this knowledge becomes unbearable to her. For most of the picture Geoff and Kate are the only two characters on the screen, (the only other sizeable part is that of Lena, Kate's best friend, beautifully played by Geraldine James). In a very short space of time we get to know these people intimately. It helps that they are magnificently played by Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling, neither of whom has ever been as good before and both of whom should be brushing up on their acceptance speeches come the awards season, (they have both already taken home Silver Bears at Berlin). The picture belongs very much to them but it also establishes Andrew Haigh as perhaps the foremost director working in Britain today; the leap from "Greek Pete" through "Weekend" to this is staggering. Haigh never puts a foot wrong; every detail of the picture is perfect. Nor is there an ounce of sentimentality to be found though the closing scene is a heart-breaker of the kind rarely found in the cinema. I have no hesitation in calling "45 Years" a masterpiece. Its success in Britain is guaranteed; let's hope the Academy are as welcoming come Oscar time.
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Little or nothing
Prodicio29 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I have a question :

Women: what would you do if, after 45 years of happy marriage, one day e remote Swiss glacier would return the frozen body of your 70 years old husband's ex girlfriend who died 50 years ago in a crevasse before you met, of which you have already talked about and know almost everything?

Little or nothing.

Men : what would you do if, after 45 years of happy marriage, one day a remote Swiss glacier would return the frozen body of an ex girlfriend who died 50 years ago, before you met your wife ?

Little or nothing.

…that's exactly what happens in this 94 out of 100 rated movie : LITTLE or NOTHING, and that "LITTLE" is even too much for me.

So what are we talking about here?

Maybe of how to stretch a less than 15 minutes (useless) content into an hour and half of silences and walks and silences again and sad foggy landscapes in a desperate search for some kind of sense to all this without any success.

The film sloooowly drags us to the end and we are still there asking ourselves : "…so what…?"

And even those 15 minutes contents do not deserve consideration because a movie needs first of all a reason to exist and this does not have any and does not even build one throughout its development.

Thank You estimated critics ( 94/100 !!??!!??) for pushing me to spend my money and time on this useless tedious film about THE NOTHING.
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