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45 Years


Stars: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James, Dolly Wells

Director: Andrew Haigh

Writer-director Andrew Haigh, working from David Constantine’s story In Another Country, never puts a frame wrong in this moving, truthful and perfectly played gem.

45 Years is essentially a two-hander set in Norfolk. Childless Kate and Geoff Mercer are preparing a party to celebrate 45 years of marriage. But their idyllic lives hit an unexpected buffer when Geoff learns that the body of his first love, Kate, has been found, preserved in ice after falling into a crevasse on a mountain in Switzerland in 1962. And, since they were engaged, Geoff is named as the next of kin.

This unexpected revelation seems set to derail the couple’s relationship, throwing their lives into emotional turmoil, as each of them attempts to deal with this utterly unexpected and potentially destructive catalyst.

It’s essentially a two-hander and, while Geraldine James delivers a telling performance, her role is essentially a cameo. The focus is firmly on Kate and Geoff.

Haigh could not have asked for better casting or more truthful, emotionally perceptive and moving performances than those given by Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling as the protagonists. They create utterly credible, flawed and moving characters whose progress from happiness to trauma and back combine to make a not-to-be-missed drama.

Haigh sensibly concentrates on his leads and their story rather than trying to prove himself an auteur. Result? he succeeds on every level, dramatic and visual (Lol Crawley’s cinematography of interiors and well chosen Norfolk locations is a considerable asset).

It’s the kind of story all too often told – to the delight of cineastes – with subtitles, thus marking it as ‘Art’ and not to be missed.

There are no subtitles here. It’s still unmissable.

It’s a BBC-BFI co-production but, miraculously, for once our television licence fee and lottery money has been used to advantage and not simply to advance movies nobody else would have financed.

Alan Frank

UK 2015. UK Distributor: Curzon/Artifcial Eye. Colour.
95 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 28 Aug 2015