45 Years

 

When I first got married, I used to fantasize about a 40th wedding anniversary. As one character in 45 Years puts it, a good marriage is “so full of history”. I couldn’t wait to start living forty or more years of history with the woman I was marrying and to one day hopefully celebrate how we beat the odds and stood the test of time. We lasted a little more than four years.

I knew that marriage would be hard. Literally everyone I knew who had ever walked down an aisle warned me of this and I really did think I understood what they meant. But nothing could prepare me for the seemingly impossible choices and challenges that awaited me. If I, as keen and committed as I was, couldn’t last 5 years, what does it take to make it to 45? I’ve often thought about the kinds of compromises the couples that last would have to make, the things they’d need to talk about, and the things they’d need to avoid talking about.

45 Years looks at what happens when a happily married couple are faced with one of those subjects that they got along just fine without talking about just one week before their 45th anniversary party. Five years before he married Kate, Geoff (Tom Courtenay) lost his girlfriend in a tragic hiking accident. Fifty years later, he gets a letter telling him that her body has been found.

Initially, Kate (Charlotte Rampling) can’t understand why Geoff is so preoccupied with this development. Once she realizes how much he wants to talk about his memories of her, she tries her best to be supportive and starts to ask questions about her husband’s former lover. Although she seems genuinely curious at first, she starts to regret her questions when his answers make it more and more clear that her husband’s previous relationship may have been more serious than she’d been led to believe.

Kate’s jealousy of a woman that died fifty years ago is fascinating. She always knew that Geoff’s last relationship didn’t so much end as was cut tragically short but she seemed to always avoid asking herself the hard questions. Would he have married her had she lived? How often does he think of the life he could have had with her?

What makes a good marriage? 45 years seems to suggest it’s as full of little white lies as it is of history and explores whether a seemingly strong partnership can withstand being shaken up by a little truth. Of course, these are polite old British people in a British movie so the distance that begins to develop between husband and wife may not express itself explosively enough for some audiences. This is a restrained film with restrained performances where the drama comes as much from what is NOT said as from the dialogue itself. Luckily, Courtenay and Rampling are masters of subtlety. Oscar-nominee Rampling in particular is captivating both with the brave face she puts on and the unshakeable doubt that she occasionally shows us. She gives a performance that is way too honest and low-key to ever win her an Oscar. But she gets my vote.

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35 thoughts on “45 Years

  1. drhumpp

    I haven’t seen the movie, but I really enjoyed your post. We just passed 11 years, and I will agree with you. Living with someone, being married, and having children is the most challenging thing (by a long shot) that I’ve ever done.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Matt Post author

      Thanks for saying so and, more importantly, congratulations! My experience has given me a renewed respect for people who keep at it. I have not given up though and am actively seeking the next Mrs Matt.

      Liked by 4 people

      Reply
    1. Matt Post author

      Yeah, I was trying to figure out what made Rampling’s performance stand out over the excellent Tom Courney’s. I think it’s in her eyes, she conveys so much emotion through them. I’m glad you liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. vinnieh

        Charlotte Rampling has always been a subtle actress who can say so much through her facial expressions that some actors can’t do with pages of dialogue. I reviewed 45 Years on my blog if you’re interested.

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  2. Sean

    Great review. This sounds like a conversation-starter. Marriage is many things to many people. As you know Jay and I are coming up on five years (our anniversary is later this week) and she makes it easy on me. The one thing I’ve learned for sure is that talking is always better than not talking. Secrets are the biggest threat to happiness and a 45 year secret would have simmered for so long it could be devastating. From your review it sounds like that’s exactly what happens here and I’m glad the performances do justice to a great premise.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    1. Matt Post author

      You and Jay give me hope. You’re absolutely right about how the keeping of secrets caused so much trouble with these two. The movie goes even further to give us a glimpse of the kind of thought processes that led to his decision to keep his secret in the first place.

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    2. Jay

      I’ve had a relationship that was cut short, but Sean is very open and in fact is often the one who wants to hear more. He’s not the jealous type though. I think he understands that just because I’ve loved others doesn’t mean I love him any less. I’m very happy with our life and though I still grieve over the past, it’s all part of what brought me here, and I know for sure that I’m supposed to be exactly here.

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  3. indiefan20

    This movie sounds interesting; I looove British dramas, they just seem a lot realer (most of the time) than the American ones. I like Tom Courteney (Saw him in “The Dresser” and “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” a couple of years ago,) but I don’t recall if I’ve seen anything with Charlotte Rampling in it. Great review, as always, I’ll have to make sure to see this when it comes out on DVD!

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    Reply
    1. Matt Post author

      I like British dramas too, especially Another Year. I’m the opposite though, I’m more familiar with Charlotte Rampling’s work than Tom Courtenay’s. Partly because she was on Dexter.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. Carrie Rubin

    Wonderful review. Love the personal narrative you added. I look forward to seeing this film. I’m a fan of Charlotte Rampling. Loved when she did a stint in the TV show ‘Dexter.’

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    Reply
    1. Matt Post author

      Haha me too. I was just saying that to Indiefan. She has an incredible screen presence. She really looks like she’s thinking about what she’s saying and genuinely reacting to the other actors.

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  5. Birgit

    This sounds like a very intelligent drama filled with so many questions and hurt. i am with my hubby for 9 1/2 yrs now and we quarrel, bicker etc… but my life would be less without him and vice-versa. Even with our quarrels we have a very similar philosophy. i know many married couple who have been together for many, many years…but most are not happy. I know my Oma and Opa would not have stayed together if it were a different time period. My other dear friend is married for over 20 years but they lead, basically separate lives. My parents, on the other hand were together for 27 years-they fought but they had a strong bond and deep respect and talked things out. I really want to see this film because it brings so much out in a marriage. Communication, doubts, past loves….I like Rampling very much and wondered what happened to her since I knew her from The Verdict.

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    Reply
    1. Matt Post author

      Thanks for sharing, Birgit. Congratulations on 9 1/2 years. Respect! I am lucky that I have seen several inspiring examples of long and healthy marriages that help me keep positive.
      Charlotte Rampling actually came to my attention in a very sad little movie called Under the Sand.

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    1. Matt Post author

      Depressing isn’t necessarily the word I would use for the experience of watching it. I think “troubling” fits my reaction to it best. My friend that I was watching it with actually used the word “scary”.

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  6. kmSalvatore

    hmm, ive not even heard of this movie… ill watch for it…
    i will be celebrating our 30th next year. we have had our ups and downs, i think thats part of the process ? and we r best friends.. that always helps:) im going to watch for this movie. thanks Matt

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  7. Jay

    p.s. Rampling didn’t actually get your vote though, did she?

    p.p.s. I haven’t seen this yet but would have been hesitant to give my vote to the woman who dared be vocal about the #Oscarssowhite controversy, siding of course on the white side of things, showing how out of touch she is and comfortable within her privilege…because, you know, demanding diversity is “racist against white people” (her words).

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  8. Pingback: Cool Shit on Netflix | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

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