45 Years

45 YearsDirector: Andrew Haigh
Run Time: 1h 35m
MPAA: R
Stars: 3.0

Anyone know where I can purchase the latest Empathizer 3000? Mine is definitely broken.

Geoff and Kate Mercer (Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling) are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary on Saturday. They are a sweet, loving couple and they live a quiet life that they each enjoy. But the Monday before the party Geoff receives a letter informing him that the body of his first love, Katya, has been found in Switzerland. Lost after a freak accident years before Kate, Katya was Geoff’s world. But things happen, tragedies befall, and life takes unexpected turns. Now decades later, Kate is learning things about Geoff’s past that she feels could jeopardize everything the two of them have built together. Timing is truly everything and Kate and Geoff have a lot to navigate in just one week.

Ok. I think I’m broken. We navigate the week, day by day, with Kate. We see the situation from her perspective so I have to assume that means we are to understand her point of view. However… I don’t. Instead I left the theater thinking about what a whiny little bitch she was to Geoff and while the timing of the news was unfortunate, she could have handled it a lot better.

— BEGIN RANT —

Let me start by saying this movie is called 45 Years because the Mercers are celebrating 45 years of marriage. (An illness kept them from celebrating their 40th so they are celebrating a little later than usual.) In all that time Geoff merely mentioned Katya to Kate. From what I can gather, he hardly talked about the life he shared with Katya and he kept that journey separate from anything he had with Kate. We learn, however, that their love was quite deep and quite true. If Katya hadn’t been killed, they would’ve ended up married with a family most likely. In a sense you could think of her as Geoff’s first wife. He even admits all of this to Kate. At first Kate tries to be understanding and let her husband talk through his emotions and reminisce about the time he had with Katya. Then as the days go by — literally days — she does a 180 and starts to take his stories as a dig at her and their marriage. Whaaat??? Listen Katie-bug, how about you watch your lover fall into a mountain’s ass crack and we’ll talk about how Geoff should be totally indifferent to this unexpected news. Cool?

I couldn’t understand how Kate could be so judgmental and insensitive to what Geoff was going through. His memories of Katya in no way diminished the life he had shared with Kate. To me it was obvious. Perhaps I was mistaken, but perhaps not.

It’s like this:

Do our pasts really ever go away? Should they? They made us who we are. But what is your past to me other than that? Do I have a right to judge you on your past? Do you have a right to judge me on mine? Do I have a right to be hurt by the life you had before me? Do you have an obligation to offer every detail of your past unsolicited? Or if I do ask, do you have a right to decide how much you share? If I find out more details later, does that mean you lied? And if you gave me 45 years of your life, does it all even matter?  Whatever you did or went through before you met me made you the person I fell in love with. Why would I be angry that you loved someone before me? I would expect you to not freak out if the situation were reversed, for sure.

So I think Kate was being quite unfair. Geoff’s tragic loss of Katya was just that: tragic. I could see why he reacted so strongly to the news of her body being discovered. Did he always say or do the “correct” or “sensitive” thing? No, of course not. But he didn’t do anything wrong either. Instead Kate let the memory of someone potentially ruin everything. That’s not exactly “sensitive” either. Or maybe it’s being too sensitive…

— END RANT —

There’s no denying the acting chops found in 45 Years. Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay were superb and their chemistry as a married couple who had been together for so long was believable. I could see pieces of couples in my own life and that made me feel like I knew the Mercers. That could be why I have such an investment in their relationship by the time the credits roll. Either way, their believably is all because of the talent behind the characters.

This film is particularly slow. It’s a leisurely stroll down Marriage Ln contemplating the life you thought you had…you did have…do have? Never mind. It’s just slow. However, I could forgive the pacing because of how much this movie made me think. The themes it explores are indeed interesting and as you can tell from above I discovered I had quite strong opinions about the subject matter; even if I am a long way from celebrating 40+ years with Husband. 45 Years could have been captivating, but it settled for interesting.

Perhaps someone closer in life experience to Geoff and Kate could appreciate this movie more than I did so I won’t definitively say to skip it. I’ll just say it’s one to seriously contemplate on whether it could be of interest to you and your life at the moment before you spend your money.


 

Another loving couple who have shared a simple but beautiful life together can be found in Another Year. Tom and Gerri are a solid couple, but their friends and family are disastrous messes. It is another depressing look at love and life, but in a slightly different way.

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