On the week of their 45th wedding anniversary, Geoff (Tom Courtenay) and Kate (Charlotte Rampling) are a seemingly happy couple living in the English countryside. All seems to be well in their lives, until Geoff finds out that the body of his past girlfriend has been discovered in Switzerland – a part of his life that Kate knows little of and seems uninterested to explore. But slowly, doubt, intrigue and obsession unravel Kate as she unearths domestic issues and seeks answers to the things left unsaid. Kate descends further and further into her investigation and battles with the idea that her secure, stable and perfect life was second best for Geoff.
45 Years is a rare film and a riveting story that is more raw and poignant than many other recent contemporary dramas. British director Andrew Haigh carefully constructed narrative takes the viewer on a quiet, yet sublime emotional journey. Both Courtney and Rampling are excellent here, but it is Rampling that gets a real vehicle with this film; often the camera is close up on her as we see her suppressing the questions, doubt and uneasiness within.
Moreover, what defines the film is its ability to focus on the drama of the situation without overplaying the concept. Moving slowly through its story, the film also works like a thriller, with tension leading up to the twist that changes Kate forever. Throughout, the tension between the characters is strong but not over the top, emphasising the strained relationship that grows worse during the week, and more fragile. And in this fragility and intense familial tragedy comes one of the most original, thought-provoking and intimate dramas of our time.