British release poster
|Directed by||Andrew Haigh|
|Produced by||Tristan Goligher|
|Screenplay by||Andrew Haigh|
|Based on||In Another Country|
by David Constantine
|Edited by||Jonathan Alberts|
|Distributed by||Artificial Eye|
|Box office||$13.9 million|
45 Years is a 2015 British romantic drama film directed and written by Andrew Haigh. The film is based on the short story "In Another Country" by David Constantine. The film premiered in the main competition section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival. Charlotte Rampling won the Silver Bear for Best Actress and Tom Courtenay won the Silver Bear for Best Actor. At the 88th Academy Awards, Rampling received a nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
It was selected to be screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and also screened at the 2015 Telluride Festival. It was released in the United Kingdom on 28 August 2015. The film was released in the United States by Sundance Selects on 23 December 2015.
The film takes place across six days, marked by intertitles. Five years after retirees Kate and Geoff Mercer had to cancel their 40th wedding anniversary because of his heart bypass surgery, the comfortably-off, childless Norfolk couple are preparing to celebrate their 45th anniversary with dozens of friends at the Assembly House in Norwich. A week before the anniversary party, they gently discuss the music that will be played. The first song from their wedding 45 years ago is their choice for the opening dance again — this is a song that Geoff has always liked. Their morning is somewhat disturbed when Geoff opens a letter from Switzerland telling him that the body of Katya, his German lover in the early 1960s, has become visible in a melting glacier where she fell into a crevasse on their hike with a guide over five decades ago. Memories rush back to him and he realizes he has forgotten much of what little German he used to know and that he would need a dictionary to fully understand all that the letter says.
Kate has been told about Katya previously by Geoff and seems initially unconcerned by his controlled disquiet. But gradually, Geoff's conduct begins to show that there is more on his mind than he says. Among other things, he tries to keep from Kate that he is beginning to take steps to fly to Switzerland without her to see Katya's body, which he imagines preserved in the now-transparent ice, still looking youthful. Prompted by Kate, Geoff talks about his relationship with Katya and thoughts evoked by the discovery of her body. He tells Kate that he and Katya had pretended to be married in order to be able to share a room in the more puritanical early 1960s. Because of this, the Swiss authorities consider him to be Katya's next of kin. Kate asks if they planned to be married and Geoff states confidently that they would have. While Kate is troubled by the revelation, she tells him: "I can hardly be cross about something that happened before we even existed... still..."
As the days pass and preparations for the party continue, Geoff continues to be moody and takes up smoking, which both had given up in the past. One night, Geoff climbs into the attic to look at his memorabilia of Katya and only reluctantly shows Kate a picture of Katya, when she angrily insists. Kate notices that in addition to their similar names, Katya appears to look much like Kate did when she was young, with the same dark hair.
Kate starts to ponder all of her life with Geoff and their possible rebound relationship, and even begins "to smell Katya's perfume" in every room. While Geoff is out at a reunion luncheon at his former workplace, Kate climbs the ladder to the attic to seek what he might be keeping there. She finds Geoff's scrapbook filled with memorabilia from his time with Katya, including pressed violets from their last hike. She finds a carousel slide projector, loaded with images of Switzerland and Katya, next to a makeshift screen to view them. Kate is shocked to see slides showing Katya with her hand on top of the curve of her abdomen: Katya was pregnant at the time of her death.
Kate also takes up smoking again and, upon learning of his visit to the local travel agency to inquire about trips to Switzerland, confronts Geoff about his recent behavior related to Katya, without revealing what she saw in the attic. She says that she now believes that many of their decisions as a couple, including their many German Shepherds (and implicitly not having children), were influenced by Katya. Geoff promises that their marriage will "start again," which the next morning he marks by serving her tea in bed and making breakfast for her. They attend their anniversary party in the historic Grand Hall. Kate is constrained, distracted, and remains impassive during Geoff's speech in which he professes his love for Kate, while saying "the choices we make in our youth are most important". He brings himself to tears during the extremely personal and emotional speech, just as Kate's friend Lena has predicted men always do at weddings and anniversaries. Kate seems fleetingly heartened by the conclusion of his speech.
The first dance is announced, which is to be the same first song from their wedding, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" by The Platters. As Geoff and Kate slow dance, she becomes increasingly awkward and rigid, while he becomes silly and playful. Kate appears to be interpreting that the significance of the song, which is about loss, relates to Geoff's feelings for Katya. As the song ends, Geoff raises their hands together in the air as the party guests cheer, but Kate yanks her arm down. Geoff, apparently oblivious, dances away. The final close-up isolates Kate amid the mass of people on the dance floor as mixed emotions play across her face.
- Charlotte Rampling as Kate Mercer
- Tom Courtenay as Geoff Mercer
- Geraldine James as Lena
- Dolly Wells as Charlotte
- Max Rudd as the Maître d'
- David Sibley as George
- Sam Alexander as Chris the postman
- Richard Cunningham as Mr. Watkins
- Kevin Matadeen as the Waiter
- Hannah Chalmers as the Travel Agent
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 97% approval rating with an average rating of 8.6/10, based on 186 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "45 Years offers richly thought-provoking rewards for fans of adult cinema – and a mesmerizing acting showcase for leads Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 94 out of 100 based on 36 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."
Mark Kermode, writing in The Observer, described the film as a "subtle examination of the persistence of the past and the fragile (in)stability of the present", arguing that the lead performances "turn an apparently everyday story of a marriage in quiet crisis into something rather extraordinary." He concludes the review by observing "Like the final shot of The Long Good Friday, which lingers upon Bob Hoskins’s face as he revisits the events that brought him to this sorry pass, 45 Years shows us the past materialising in the expressions of those trapped in the present, staring into an uncertain future."
|Award / Film Festival||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result|
|Academy Awards||Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Nominated|
|Berlin International Film Festival||Best Actor||Tom Courtenay||Won|
|Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Won|
|Golden Bear||Andrew Haigh||Nominated|
|British Academy Film Awards||Outstanding British Film||45 Years||Nominated|
|British Independent Film Awards||Best British Independent Film||45 Years||Nominated|
|Best Director||Andrew Haigh||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Tom Courtenay||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Andrew Haigh||Nominated|
|Producer of the Year||Tristan Goligher||Nominated|
|Boston Society of Film Critics||Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Won|
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Awards||Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Nominated|
|Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association||Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||4th Place|
|David di Donatello||Best European Film||45 Years||Nominated|
|Dorian Awards||Performance Of The Year — Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Nominated|
|Dublin Film Critics' Circle||Best Actor||Tom Courtenay||4th Place|
|Edinburgh International Film Festival||Best Performance in a British Feature Film||Charlotte Rampling||Won|
|Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film||Andrew Haigh||Won|
|Empire Awards||Best British Film||45 Years||Nominated|
|European Film Awards||Best European Actor||Tom Courtenay||Nominated|
|Best European Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Won|
|Best European Screenwriter||Andrew Haigh||Nominated|
|Evening Standard British Film Awards||Best Film||45 Years||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Tom Courtenay||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Nominated|
|Editor's Award||45 Years||Won|
|Florida Film Critics Circle||Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Runner-up|
|Indiewire Critics Poll||Best Lead Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Won|
|Best Lead Actor||Tom Courtenay||5th Place|
|Irish Film & Television Awards||Best International Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Nominated|
|London Film Critics' Circle||Film of the Year||45 Years||Nominated|
|British / Irish Film of the Year||45 Years||Won|
|Director of the Year||Andrew Haigh||Nominated|
|Actress of the Year||Charlotte Rampling||Won|
|Actor of the Year||Tom Courtenay||Won|
|British / Irish Actress of the Year||Charlotte Rampling||Nominated|
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association||Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Won|
|National Board of Review||Top Ten Independent Films||45 Years||Won|
|National Society of Film Critics||Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Won|
|New York Film Critics Online||Top 10 Films||45 Years||Won|
|Online Film Critics Society||Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Nominated|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Nominated|
|San Francisco Film Critics Circle||Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Nominated|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Andrew Haigh||Nominated|
|Valladolid Film Festival||Best Actress||Charlotte Rampling||Won|
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