45 Years looks like one of those films that just rips you apart and then leaves you in a dark corner somewhere, all disassembled and feeling like maybe you don’t really know anything about anything. Sign me up! Also, go ahead and pour me a glass of whiskey.
Just as I suspected it might be, 45 Years is a fantastic but tough film. Geoff (played very earnestly by Tom Courtenay) is all set to celebrate 45 years of marriage with Kate (played passionately and brilliantly by Charlotte Rampling), but a few days before the momentous occasion is set to occur he receives a letter notifying him that the body of his first love has been found (she fell down a crevasse while they were hiking). This causes an immediate shift in the couple’s relationship, and the rest of the film follows Kate as she battles her husband’s rekindled infatuation with a woman long gone.
45 Years is only about 90 minutes long, but even with its swift runtime director Andrew Haigh delivers a lot via Kate’s unraveling. Don’t expect any big dramatic moments set to sweeping music or anything like that though. No, Haigh quietly and patiently unfolds the film in a way where Rampling is allowed to show you everything via her face (her eyes are something else) and little reactions to things (there’s a great moment where a certain lyric causes her to quickly turn the radio off). So, every time she finds something out or becomes more aware of her situation, you see it on her face and in her body language before a single word is spoken. It truly is masterful work by Rampling. Props to Haigh for providing the right sort of space in the film for her performance to exist.
If you want to take a punch to the stomach and/or you just like great movies, then go see 45 Years.
One Last Thought:
I never watch movies with headphones on, but I strapped on a pair for 45 Years and really enjoyed the experience. Admittedly, I don’t know if I loved it because the film was mixed really well or if it was just nice to blot out the world, but either way I think I’m going to start wearing headphones as often as possible when watching movies at home. You can hear everything!