Amongst the Outstanding British Film nominees at this Sunday’s BAFTAs is Andrew Haigh’s intimate drama 45 Years. It’s based on the short story In Another Country by David Constantine and follows a devoted couple, Geoff and Kate, during five troubling days before their forty-fifth wedding anniversary. Away from their public celebrations, the couple are dealing privately with news that the body of Geoff’s first love, Katja, has finally been found. She’s perfectly preserved in a Swiss Glacier following a mountaineering accident Geoff witnessed in 1962.
Charlotte Rampling

That Katia’s body is frozen in time is a profound symbol. Geoff and Kate have so far resisted the tragedy which occurred before they met, failing to confront its effect on their relationship. Director Andrew Haigh (whose earlier relationship drama, Weekend, swept up twenty wins on the festival circuit) beautifully teases them out, encompassing both significant and trivial life choices in moments of warm conversation and lonely meditation.

The performances from British stalwarts Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling are natural and understated but deeply affecting. Kate grapples with a private and public self, troubled not only by her crumbling marriage but by the appearance of it. Haigh shrewdly recognises these are not mutually exclusive and the couple’s very public anniversary celebration makes its own mark on their relationship.

Without pretensions, Haigh delivers a slow burning crescendo ripe with subtleties and truth. His 45 Years is a small film, but one that offers up the most private thoughts and feelings of its characters for our reflection: a remarkable experience.

 

VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5/5

 

Certificate: 15
Running time: 135 minutes
45 Years is available on DVD and Blu-Ray now

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