45 Years

Feb 15, 2016

A beautiful film with a transcendent performance.

45 Years

Grade: A

Director: Andrew Haigh (Weekend)

Screenplay: Haigh (adaptation of David Constantine short story)

Cast: Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool), Tom Courtenay (Quartet)

Rating: R

Runtime: Ihr 35 min

by John DeSando

“We don't realize it at the time, but those memories—they're the things, aren't they?” Kate (Charlotte Rampling)

As their 45th anniversary approaches, Kate and her husband, Geoff (Tom Courtenay), confront some disturbing information about his young lover, who, like their own ancient and frozen love, was found recently encased in ice in a crevice from a fall while they were hiking in the Swiss Alps. Kate must deal with feelings of jealousy while Geoff must keep from falling completely apart.

How this mature couple composes themselves is the stuff of this fine romance whose onion skin revelations reverberate among an older audience that nods it head with their own memories. Rampling is on camera most of the time, displaying a nuanced, sensitive, and tough character who is not about to let her marriage be frozen itself in recriminations and memories that cannot be changed.

Rampling has deservedly been nominated for an Oscar, not so much for the brilliance of her lines or the passion of her delivery but for the subtle way her low-lying eyelids and curved mouth express the love of her husband and her dismay about the young woman, who’s “been standing in the corner of the room all this time, behind my back.”

No rancor, just quiet wisdom who takes her jealousy out of the corner and into the sober, chastening light of day. Gary Puckett & The Union Gap’s Young Girl, played over a scene, helps us understand the danger the young woman poses for the couple. As The Platters sing Smoke Gets in Your Eyes while the couple does the obligatory first dance at the celebration, director Andrew Haigh does a nice metaphoric accompaniment to the story’s themes.

45 Years resonates with all ages in the never-ending struggle to keep alien forces from crashing our lives.  This two-hander will delight you with is soulful understanding of human frailty and its underplayed exclamations affirming that humanity:

“You've kept the secret of your youth…Now it hurts to know the truth.” Kate

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at