Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling
Charlotte Rampling certainly earned her first Academy Award nomination (unbelievable, right?) as Kate Mercer, whose marriage gets a little rocky the week of her and her husband’s 45th wedding anniversary party. Fifty years before, her husband, Jeff (Tom Courtenay, himself a two-time Oscar nominee for Doctor Zhivago and The Dresser), had a relationship with a German girl, Katja, who disappeared in a hiking accident. When her body is found frozen in the glacier, old feelings are dredged up that threaten Jeff’s sanity and the Mercers’ marriage.
Writer-director Andrew Haigh (Weekend) captures the love and complexity of an aging marriage. His veteran stars wear their characters like comfy clothing they have worn for years, a necessary feature for a film about a couple who have been married for four-plus decades. Kate and Jeff’s love is ever-present, and their struggle to maintain it is very real. Despite the sad narrative of the Mercers’ week, their love keeps 45 Years from ever feeling depressing. Small, personal dramas are easy to overlook on the big screen. 45 Years is one to celebrate.