English filmmaker Andrew Haigh returns to the director’s chair for 45 Years, a grossly in-depth examination of the lives and minds of a couple approaching their 45th anniversary whilst battling hidden problems from their past. English cinema veterans Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay both provide emotionally powerful performances as they take on the roles of Kate and Geoff Mercer, who begin to question the very foundations of their marriage only days before they are set to celebrate it.
The film is set amidst the backdrop of a bleak English countryside. On the surface, this may appear dull and not particularly provocative, but in fact, it is this setting that speaks volumes and helps create the overall intended mood of the film to great effect. The still, grey days and cold, stormy nights subtly and organically amplify the tension that is building between the couple.
At its core, 45 Years examines the power of the past and its ability to play on our emotions long after events have transpired. As the film creeps from scene to scene, interactions between the couple become more and more difficult to watch – we witness the awkward situation of a man struggling with an unresolved past, and a wife who is trying desperately to understand it. It becomes a brutal reminder of the fragility of even the strongest relationship.
Oddly, the film contains no original soundtrack. The only sounds present are the ones created by the natural environment in which the characters live. However, this practice pays off, as the absence of music allows for a higher level of involvement from the audience. This diverts from the usual cinema experience and places the viewer in a somewhat voyeuristic role.
45 Years is a piece of cinema geared to make you think. It requires a certain amount of empathy and viewer participation; once this is achieved, it’s surprising what questions we find ourselves asking, and what answers will follow. However – due mostly to its melancholy subject matter and dreary appearance – the film will not be enjoyed by all, and younger audiences will probably find it hard to relate to a lot of the issues presented.
45 Years is released nationwide on 28th August 2015.
Watch the trailer for 45 Years here: