STORY: A married and elderly couple – Kate Mercer (Rampling) and Geoff Mercer (Courtenay) – live a comfortably retired life in the British countryside. They are also still very much in love with each other. One day though, Geoff receives a letter informing him that the remains of his first sweetheart have been found after many, many years. Apart from being shaken by this news, it also threatens the foundation of their marriage, whose validity is questioned.
REVIEW: Love exists in many hues and shades and 45 Years examines a facet of this feeling that we don’t often get to see onscreen. It also analyses the dynamics of a relationship – from physical to emotional – that exist between people who have spent the better part of their lifetimes together. If two people have been together for so long, can their relationship still be shaken by a ghost from the past? And if so, wouldn’t it be a terrible feeling for a person to realize that their husband or wife has never really stopped loving someone – even if that someone is long dead?
The characters of the lead pair are also carefully fleshed out. Geoff is the more easygoing of the two, but not in a joyous way. He does seem rather vacant at times, perhaps the result of his age. Kate is the wired one, more alert and active. As the narrative unfolds, we get to see how Geoff becomes more withdrawn and introspective. No doubt about the letter he received that triggered off a torrent of memories. Kate becomes more concerned and even anguished as she uncovers more and more about Geoff’s first love. To her, these well-kept secrets (especially when Geoff refers to the lady as ‘My Katya’) are a form of betrayal, that too before their 45th anniversary.
The direction and screenplay (intertitles are used) is understated, but younger viewers might find themselves stifling a yawn or two at times. The slow pace however, can make 45 Years’ somewhat brisk run-time seem much longer. On the other hand, the film is perfect for the elderly to see, be intrigued by and savor.