45 Years (2015)
Starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay
Directed by Andrew Haigh
One morning a week before their forty-fifth wedding anniversary, a letter arrives at the home of Geoff and Kate Mercer (Tom Courtenay, Charlotte Rampling) that brings back memories that may change their lives forever.
And that's all I'll say about 45 Years as it's best to let the somewhat simplistic story unfold with as little knowledge as possible. This is a quiet and slow-moving film that may not be for everyone's tastes -- I'll admit that there were moments I found myself willing the flick to pick up the pace. However, writer and director Andrew Haigh's film really allows the viewer to hone in on the feelings this letter arouses in both Geoff and Kate with the former being directly affected by the contents of the parcel and the latter affected by Geoff's reaction to its information. Life had already changed for the aging, long-term couple after Geoff's heart attack five years prior had led to a slight lessening of his motor skills and intellect, but their relationship finds itself tested in a different way as they head into their forty-fifth year together.
The quietness of the film's direction is echoed in the performances of Rampling and Courtenay, with Rampling in particular asked to display a majority of her character's emotions internally. As she gradually realizes that Geoff may not have been forthcoming with her about everything in his life prior to their marriage (not a spoiler, I promise), Rampling's Kate grapples with the notion that her still somewhat-sick husband needs her despite the fact that his past may have tainted aspects of the their entire marriage. Rampling nicely crafts a character whose building tension is seemingly waiting to bust free as she's preparing for an anniversary party that's supposed to celebrate their years together. Courtenay is also quite good as the husband who not only is coming to grips with the fact that he's physically not the man he used to be, but who is also forced to remember something from his past that has perhaps shaped everything he's done.
On a strictly personal level -- and if anyone who reads this has seen the film, I'd love to discuss it -- I will admit that I found myself aggravated a bit with the character of Kate. It's difficult to talk about without spoilers -- so I won't go into great detail -- but I found her character's reactions plausible, yet a bit inconsiderate. The film's final moment hammered home this notion for me because despite Geoff's past, he's still a man that deeply cares and loves his wife, yet Kate seems to be harboring insecurity that isn't Geoff's fault in the slightest. That said, I can go into detail no further, but I will say my feelings for the character don't negate the film in the slightest as I think Kate is open for interpretation in that regard.
45 Years is a deliberately slow film that even at ninety minutes feels about a third longer which is the crux of the flick's biggest problem. That said, the story unfolds believably and thoughtfully and while I also bored of the pace at times, I appreciated Haigh's slow burn onscreen. This won't be a film to suit everyone's tastes, but it's a good one nonetheless.
The RyMickey Rating: B