Director: Andrew Haigh
Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James, Richard Cunningham, David Sibley
Written by: Andrew Haigh and (based on a short story) David Constantine
Running Time: 95 mins
Release date: 28th August 2015
Andrew Haigh, what have you done? You had the makings of a five star movie here, possibly one of the best of the year. You have two outstanding leads, an intriguing story and cinematography that is close to perfection, yet while you allowed your story to develop slowly, it felt like an eternity to get to what you wanted to achieve.
A week before Kate and Geoff Mercer’s 45th wedding anniversary, Geoff announces that he has received a letter from Switzerland, telling him that his first love, who went missing over 50 years ago, has been found frozen in the icy glaciers of the alps. At first the news doesn’t affect Kate that much but as the days count down to their party, and with Geoff’s increasingly odd behaviour, she soon finds that it’s news that could effect their marriage.
Haigh’s film, set in and around the Norfolk Broads, centres on the relationship of these two people who have lived together as man and wife for the past 45 years, yet even at that length, do you really know someone? He uses this as his main purpose to pull you into mainly Kate’s world. She is the one who we see everything from. She is the one who slowly starts to crumble and this is possibly the heart of the problem.
The film needs more. Even though it’s heartbreaking to what a woman of such dignity and class, taking this shocking news in her stride and then slowly suffering inside, you feel that you need more than this to keep the attention. Haigh drags it out across the whole 95 minutes at a pace that really does drag. It might have been even more interesting if we really saw things from Geoff’s point of view too. How it is affecting him. Instead we get snippets, little moments that just don’t feel enough.
That said, the film look magnificent, with the Broads captured beautifully by cinematographer Lol Crawley. On top of that are two magnificent performances from two seasoned veterans. Tom Courtenay is wonderful as the gentle Geoff, who believes he has done nothing wrong and yet secretly hides his emotions about the incident. Charlotte Rampling has the most to do and is understated, regal and majestic, using silence as her greatest communicator. The pair are brilliantly naturalistic and you instantly believe that they have lived their lives together for that whole time.
45 Years is a film with plenty to merit it yet its hard to truly recommended due to its incredibly slow pace. While it builds the tension, it slams the brakes on so hard it almost becomes motionless. Such a pity as it does have enough to admire and unless you like your films very, very slow, then maybe this isn’t for you.