45 Years (2015)
Directed by Andrew Haigh
“45 Years” may be the best film you won’t see this year. The beautifully simple British romance stars Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling as Geoff and Kate Mercer, a normal couple planning their anticipated 45th anniversary party. But a week before the big day, Geoff gets news that reminds him of his lovely first girlfriend, who died in an accident before he and Kate ever met. It’s easy to assume Geoff is over his first love, but the news stops this seemingly idyllic marriage in its tracks.
Courtenay and Rampling have an intimate, life-affirming sort of romantic chemistry. Charlotte Rampling is a master of subtlety…she exudes emotions with her entire being, so words aren’t necessary. She’s filled with youthful vigor, a prompt dismissal of that common suggestion that there aren’t good roles for women her age. Tom Courtenay spins simple yarns like a seasoned storyteller. It’s a graceful coming-of-age story for a man half a century older than most coming-of-age protagonists. Geoff’s memory lapses lead us to wonder whether we know for sure what we think we know. The story is achingly unassuming, but “45 Years” boasts leads that make this routine story an exceptional one.
You may want to familiarize yourself with this striking film before February, in case Oscar catches a glimpse of it. “45 Years” is a timeless love story that cuts deep.