Can you ever really know someone, even after spending a lifetime together?
This is the premise of 45 Years, a dissection of the marriage between Kate & Geoff Mercer, a childless, middle-class couple living in a rural property on the Norfolk Broads, in the week leading up to a party to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.
But the arrival of a letter takes Geoff back to his life before Kate, when he was in love with a German girl who suffered a tragic death.
Layers of the story and of Geoff & Kate’s relationship are unpeeled in real time. The pace is slow, reflecting the routine of a retired couple with their own interests, and you feel as though you’re eavesdropping on their private lives and thoughts.
With each day of the week ahead of the party, Kate uncovers a small, new piece of information about the German girl and what she meant to Geoff. This all happened a lifetime ago, but what does it mean for their marriage now?
The landscape is haunting. The soundtrack is atmospheric. The acting is mesmerising, particularly from Tom Courtenay as Geoff and Charlotte Rampling as Kate.
The final scene, where they’re dancing together at the party – to Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, as they did on their wedding day – will stay with me for a while. The look in Kate’s eyes says more than a thousand words ever could.