Cinema Review: 45 Years


We all live in our own heads, do we not? Years of co-habitation, of deep and enduring love and friendship can still never fully erode the wall surrounding a secret enclave of indelible memory that is the author of our true, intensely personal story. Pop psychology insists that it all be let out, that everything be revealed, but maybe it goes against the grain to not keep a little something just to ourselves. As close now as they have always been, Kate and Geoff Mercer (Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay) are preparing for a party at which they will mark forty-five years of marriage. Kate is fully aware of the ill-fated relationship her husband had with a German girl, Katya, before she met him, and to Kate it is water under the bridge… until Geoff receives news in the mail that will send a tremor through the emotional bedrock of their life together. Katya had been killed when she and Geoff were hiking through the Swiss Alps and her body, after all this time, has been discovered frozen in a glacier. The result is to launch the elderly, childless couple on different trajectories of introspection and self-discovery. Set in the wintry Downs of Kent, details unravel bit by bit in the leadup to the weekend’s celebration. Geoff seems rejuvenated by the memory of Katya – he and Kate dance in their living room, they make love, and walk together with their German shepherd, Max. But Kate, increasingly uncertain of her own standing in the hitherto rock-solid marriage, chips away at finding a truth that Geoff has concealed from her. Every good story has a twist and the one in this arrives when Kate climbs into the loft to dig out Geoff’s slides from the hiking trip with Katya. I didn’t see it coming and it changed my take on the movie as much as it did Kate’s understanding of her husband. Two of the finest actors of their generation deliver vintage performances in a poignant film of startling honesty.

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