45 Years (2015)

It’s Sinister but with old people. There’s a joke about three people will get. But seriously, 45 Years is a beautiful, harrowing look at married life, the weight of the past and hope for the future. Smart writing and solid performances carry the film and make this one worth watching.

Geoff (Tom Courtenay) and Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) are approaching their 45th wedding anniversary. They plan on throwing a party, but when Geoff gets news about an old flame, it causes a schism that threatens their party and, more importantly, their marriage.

The great strength of this film is its magnificent screenwriting. It truly captures the nuance of language in a relationship. The spoken word can be a source of comfort or a cutting blade. More important, which words are which is hard to determined, things said that mask suppressed emotions and conversations dripping with subtext.

And these words are breathed into life by Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling. Tom does a great job of playing this rather easygoing old gentleman who has random compulsions at unusual times. Charlotte could easily fall into the stereotype of the shrill, jealous wife, but she gives it a weight that makes it relatable. It’s hard not to be heartbroken when she confronts Tom about the situation.

The result is a beautiful, moving film. The winter of a relationship can either be the warmth of company next to a roaring fireplace, hot tea in hand or the frigid fingers of harsh winds and the bite of steady snowfall. 45 Years is a mix of both, an exploration of the good and bad of marriage and the power of love.

© 2016 James Blake Ewing