Directed by Andrew Haigh
“45 Years” is a distinguished, high-quality British drama, which I recommend without reservations.
The director, Andrew Haigh, who already had convinced me of his filmmaking capabilities with the acclaimed drama, “Weekend”, centered on a gay relationship, was fortunate to work with Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay, two of the most extraordinary actors of their generation, whose monumental performances I can’t praise enough (both were awarded a more than deserved Silver Berlin Bear).
They respectively play, Kate and Geoff Mercer, an apparently balanced couple living almost secluded in the beautiful English countryside. Within a week, the childless couple is going to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary, to take place in an elegant space in town, and the occasion involves some preparation work so everything can run smoothly. We can sense a mature, warm tenderness on their voices and behavior, despite some debilitation evinced by the retired Geoff, who was subjected to a bypass surgery five years before, the reason why they’re celebrating the 45th anniversary instead of the usual 40th. Suddenly, the arrival of an atypical letter, sent by the Swiss authorities, disturbs the composure of their rustic lives. The letter informs that the body of Geoff’s ex-girlfriend, Katya, was found in the Alpine mountains, preserved underneath the ice since 50 years ago, when she fell down from a precipice. This unanticipated news, which should have been faced with tranquility, inflicts deep transformations in Geoff, who starts having a relentless necessity of talking about Katya. Kate, who shows a salutary openness to talk about everything, is struck not only by a natural jealousy but also by an uncontrollable curiosity that leads her into a nebulous period of Geoff’s past. The biting reality makes her feel betrayed, letting us envision a painful bitterness for the years to come.
Mr. Haigh’s camera lens places its focal point on the characters, soulfully capturing the restless and heavily disappointed look of Kate, as well as the partially camouflaged inner turmoil of Geoff who grows pensive in attitude and reckless in appearance. Not infrequently, the images are quite sharp over the subjects, but intensify the out of focus background. This aspect, intentionally or not, has a parallel with this reflective tale when depicting a supposedly unclouded present sapped by a blurry past.
Timeless and progressively enthralling, “45 Years” ends in an excruciatingly heartbreaking way at the sound of ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’. My favorite of 2015.