45 years of marriage sounds impressive. We only have a feeling of admiration for the couple who managed to live and love each other that long. But what if there was an unknown and invisible presence, or perhaps in case of Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years, a person who had been in this marriage to dictate its course the way she wanted? Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff Mercer (Sir Tom Courtenay) have been happily married for over 45 years. Now, they are preparing to celebrate their wedding anniversary. But will the third person be invited to the celebration, marking the successful existence in the mind of Geoff for fifty years? Well, physically, she won’t be able to attend the party for one simple reason – she had departed this world a long time ago. But surely, she will be in the mind of Geoff and Kate, as a great catalyst that had changed their lives forever.
Kate’s mind is fully occupied with the preparation of the anniversary party, to ensure nothing will be missed, not even a little detail that will prevent her from reproducing the wedding that took place 45 years ago. Geoff seems like he also can’t wait for the weekend, to finally honor their long years of happy marriage with his beloved wife. However, everything changes in the blink of an eye when he receives a letter with a shocking news. It informs Geoff about Katya, the girl he was engaged before he met Kate. Katya’s body was found in a remote crevasse in the mountains of Switzerland, because snow had melted due to the global warming. This news touches Geoff so deeply that it makes him jeopardize not only the upcoming celebration, but the entire marriage as well. Kate cannot control her strong desire to find out the truth, which adds fuel to the fire, although she’d been better off if she hadn’t found out the details ….
45 Years is a British drama based on the short story “In Another Country” by David Constantine, and well adapted by Andrew Haigh, who added additional details, such as the preparation of the anniversary celebration, or the aftermath of the letter with the news. Haigh gave enriched the characters and developed them in such a way that you can see the story from both Kate’s and Geoff’s sides. Geoff used to be a quiet, peaceful and a respected man in the community who changes after hearing the death of the woman whom he used to love. However, as you watch him, you learn facts about him that even his wife, Kate, never knew. This is when you will ask yourself, what if he never stopped loving Katya? What if the only woman whom he truly was married was Katya, and not Kate?
Kate, on the other hand, is desperate for the truth, and wants to know the reason for the noticeable changes in her husband. As she digs deep into it, she finds terrifying facts that make her push hard towards something she would not have thought of doing before. Charlotte Rampling, who portrays Kate superbly, is what makes 45 Years worth watching. Sir Tom Courtenay’s performance is such a delight that it makes you know Geoff thoroughly by the end of this film. In conclusion, Haigh’s film is a beautifully-crafted story about a marriage that may go on, but never in the same way as before. It’s also about a woman whose presence will always be there even after her death. But the main theme of this film is: how utterly heartbreaking 45 years of marriage could be, because it had included one more person.