45 Years is nearly the amount of time since Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff Mercer (Tom Courtenay) have been married and they’re now preparing for their anniversary celebrations, which are just a few days away and this film counts day by day up until their special occasion.
We learn early that Kate used to be a teacher, as her postman, Chris (Sam Alexander) calls her “Mrs Mercer”, to which she responds “Kate. We’re not in the classroom, now.”, a quick line like that creates a career and personality for her in an instant, which was very clever. Geoff is part-an old curmudgeon, and part-suffering from dementia.
However, secrets are about to be uncovered as he receives a letter stating that they’ve found the body of an old love of his, a woman called Katya whose body, for over 50 years, has lain undisturbed, freezing in a Swiss glacier, after going missing. There are some things Kate knew and some that she didn’t, but how to deal with it all given Geoff’s condition?
Naturally, it’s going to put a dampner on the big day, but then even when you have big days that are going to be important, you’re never entirely free from everything that’s going on in your mind, as it processes all the negative information it has to deal with.
8 mins in, it’s amusing that there’s a scene where a brief exchange takes place outside where 90% of the conversation is out of the earshot of the camera… yet the subtitles fill in the gap. It’s not an essential chat – just Kate asking Geoff to eat something and take his pills, whilst checking that he’s okay after the news he received in the post that morning – but it’s amusing that the subtitles have to fill in the gaps.
There’s also interesting direction, such as a chat at nearly 15 mins in, where Courtenay is off-screen for most of it.
I could detail a couple of scenes of note in it, including one I saw in a clip before I watched the whole film, but I think it’s best to discover yourself. I do have to say that it sags sags a little in the middle, but I can’t think what I’d change as it’s a slice of life drama between two characters, and they will go through the minutae of life as the story progresses, but then the minor things in life will always be discussed amongst the major.
That said, Charlotte Ramping gives a powerhouse performance, whose character’s emotions can change quickly, but also with a brilliant subtlety. Both her and Tom Courtenay have won awards and nominations for their acting in this, but I feel hers was much more deserved. While it’s mostly a two-hander, his is more like a supporting character.
One thing it did leave me with by the end – and I will give no spoilers – is that I was hankering to know what would happen next… follow them for another week, perhaps. Then again, I don’t think a follow-up would really work, since it’s the *not knowing* certain things that leaves it playing in the mind and which makes it a better film as a result.
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and is as pin-sharp as you’d expect, bringing the Norfolk Broads beautifully to life. Also, I’m watching this on a 50″ Panasonic Plasma TV.
The audio is in DTS HD 5.1, but it’s a dialogue-led drama and doesn’t have any split-surround action here, but then you weren’t expecting any of that with this drama.
The extras are as follows:
- Q&A (11:09): Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, director Andrew Haigh and producer Tristan Goligher are asked questions by, and give answers to, Dave Calhoun, Time Out’s Film Editor. This is clearly edited down from a longer Q&A, so it’s a great shame we haven’t got the entire thing, since that’s what fans want from extras, and it’s not as if the disc is full(!)
- Trailer (2:04): In the original 1.85:1 theatrical ratio.
- Audio description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
- Audio commentary: From director Andrew Haigh and producer Tristan Goligher.
The menu features Ms Rampling in the scene where she’s playing the piano and we learn in the Q&A that that music is entirely improvised. There are 12 chapters and the subtitles are in English.
Running time: 95 minutes
Released: January 11th 2016
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Andrew Haigh
Producer: Tristan Goligher
Screenplay: Andrew Haigh (based on a short story by David Constantine)
Kate Mercer: Charlotte Rampling
Geoff Mercer: Tom Courtenay
Charlotte: Dolly Wells
Lena: Geraldine James
Niece: Michelle Finch
Mr Watkins: Richard Cunningham
Jake: Rufus Wright
George: David Sibley
Chris the postman: Sam Alexander
Maître d’: Max Rudd
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.