Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

45 years

A married couple preparing to celebrate their wedding anniversary receive shattering news that promises to forever change the course of their lives.

Well yes, that is the basic plot of this highly-regarded indie British flick - but it is a slow-moving, leisurely paced examination of a marriage which may be coming apart at the seams, just as the couple - Kate and Geoff - are holding a party to celebrate their 45 years - he was ill for their 40th and may not be around for the 50th .... We see their contented life in retirement in Norfolk: that idyllic cottage, walks with the dog in the country, boat trips. Suddenly though Geoff gets a letter - something from the past has come back. 50 years earlier he and his then girlfriend Katya were holidaying in the Alps when she fell into a glacier and was killed. Her body has now been found preserved in ice. This is unsettling for Kate as she sees how it affects her husband, who is now up in the loft in the middle of the night, digging up old letters and photos. Then it is revealed that he is listed as her next of kin, as they had pretended to be married (it was 50 years ago) ...

Kate becomes unsettled by it all as she slowly thinks their 45 years is all a sham, that she has been second best all along, which is unbearable to her, as Geoff confesses he would have married Katya if the accident had not happened..She braves the ladder to the loft herself and sees all the slides of a maybe pregnant Katya - but Kate and Geoff had never bothered taking pictures of themselves By the time the party comes round, there may not be a marriage to celebrate .
It is virtually a two-hander for Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as we get absorbed in their lives and wonder how it is going to pan out. We grew up watching them in screen since their early '60s triumphs (BILLY LIAR, GEORGY GIRL). Sir Tom has quietly excelled over the years on film, stage and television. Charlotte was 'The Look' as directors like Visconti, Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet wanted her for their films, then came the controversial THE NIGHT PORTER, as she settled in France and became (like Romy Schneider before her) a fixture of French cinema, with some adventerous choices (MAX MON AMOUR, HEADING SOUTH) and she excelled in those Francois Ozon films like the unsettling UNDER THE SAND and SWIMMING POOL. Lately she has been back on British television in the underwhelming second series of BROADCHURCH and LONDON SPY. Here, she mesmerises under Andrew Haigh's direction as Kate reacts to Geoff and what she finds out about him. 
We leave them at the party with that long close-up showing emotional devastation as "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" plays on and on ...

I was not too enthusiastic about Haigh's previous film: the 2011 gay romance WEEKEND, which seemed too contrived, but 45 YEARS is something else indeed - a melancholy chamber-piece as the ghost of Katya hangs over this troubled marriage. At least Rampling got an Oscar nomination which will boost the film's visibility, after being snubbed by BAFTA. It is certainly worth 90 odd minutes of your time. There is a sense of Antonioni alienation here too, particularly as Kate wanders around that market town .... 


  1. As you know I selected it as my best film of last year and picked Charlotte for my best actress. I wonder how I will feel when I view on bluray for the second time.

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