There’s no witty intro for this week’s choice. Perhaps given the sombre subject matter of my chosen flick? Whatever it is, and whatever our thoughts on the film, it definitely throws up some feelings.
I’m going straight in because I feel like Charlotte Rampling‘s character would want that (she’s a former teacher and doesn’t beat around the bush).
45 Years (2015)
A married couple preparing to celebrate their wedding anniversary receives shattering news that promises to forever change the course of their lives.
*Spoilers for dayz*
Fucking hell. Imagine for a second that you’ve been married to the same man for 45 years (believe it or not this isn’t a horror movie). Then imagine that, days before your anniversary party, your husband receives a letter telling him that the corpse of his old girlfriend, who fell off a mountain over 50 years previously, has just been recovered. How would you feel?
Well this is the awful situation Kate Mercer (Rampling) finds herself in when her husband Geoff (Tom Courtenay) receives the aforementioned correspondence. Geoff it seems, has given his old lady minimal information about his old flame Katya (which to be fair isn’t unusual). All Kate knows is that the couple had been climbing a mountain and Katya fell off.
The letter, from Switzerland, states that her remains have been found and that, given the icy conditions of the recovery site, have been perfectly preserved. This brings up some feels in Geoff, who is reasonably shaken by this turn of events and ponders the fact she’ll look exactly as she did over half a decade before, while he’s now old aged.
Kate herself is a little shaken but to begin with brushes this off as just a thing that’s happened. She assures Geoff that she can’t be mad at something that happened before they even met. As the days pass and their big celebratory bash draws nearer however, it becomes apparent that neither of them are fine.
Kate is (again, understandably) torn between wanting to know everything and not wanting to talk about it, while Geoff retreats inward, beating himself up about forgetting his German and needing a dictionary to help him translate the letter. At night, Kate prompts him to open up and he does, explaining that he and Katya had pretended to be married on their travels. There are anecdotes about their time together and despite Kate fishing for detail, she doesn’t handle it well.
Slowly but surely the couple start to drift apart and things get worse when Kate wakes to find Geoff in the loft. He finds Katya’s photograph and Kate begs to see it. This is not a wise move as having a face to put to the name makes Kate even more insecure.
This film perfectly captures the new feeling of distrust. Every quiet moment, every far off gaze is loaded and dangerous, and I can’t pretend the atmosphere conjured up by the performances didn’t get to me. Grief is an unpredictable thing but so is jealousy and the feeling of inadequacy.
Kate can’t help herself either as she unravels all the secrets Geoff is still keeping from her. Transparency it not the one here and it hurts to watch. What’s a person to do when they come to learn they were second choice – or at least believe they were? How do you compete with the spectre of a lost love?
Let me tell you that I don’t know how I would deal in this situation. I can only strongly surmise that I’d handle it worse than Kate does.
So, where can our once happy couple go from here? Will their story end here or is there more to come. Well, who knows dear reader. Who knows?
4.5/5. Brilliant but harsh. The performances, particularly Rampling’s, are mesmerising.
What did Jill think of this rather melancholy offering? Would she drop it off a mountain or throw a party with all her friends there to celebrate it? Find out here.