Written and Directed by Andrew Haigh / Starring Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay
Every year, countless films are released dealing with the relationships of couples. For the most part though, these films frequently pertain to couples of a certain age. We have seen films about young couples, and an increase in films about couples in their forties, but films chronicling the lives of older couples are rare.
Andrew Haigh’s 45 YEARS follows Kate and Geoff Mercer (Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay) as they approach their forty-fifth wedding anniversary. Once happy and in love, the two are now looking back at their relationship through a more realistic lens. As a relationship from Geoff’s past is brought back into the conversation, Kate begins to scrutinize her life with her husband. She begins to look back on the ways her life has gone wrong, filling her with contempt. Eventually, Kate and Geoff are left to question marriage as an institution and acknowledge whether there really is a point in dedicating one’s life to another person for nearly half decade.
45 YEARS ultimately belongs to Rampling. The actress is somewhat of a legend at this point, but has stepped back into supporting roles in the past decade. Haigh’s film reminds us why Rampling is one of the best actors of her generation. She can emote more in one glance than many actors can in an entire performance.
The film is definitely a slow burn, revealing more and more about its characters as it progresses. 45 YEARS is not so much a film about the events that happen in a particular marriage, as it is a meditation on the ideas of marriage itself. The film’s striking final shot feels like a stab in the chest, but only then will viewers realize the masterful creation they have witnessed. Though it may be too slow moving for some, 45 YEARS is surely one of the year’s best.