45 Years

Film, Drama
5 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(8user reviews)
45 Years

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay play a couple dealing with the past in this powerful, brilliant British drama

This eerie drama is a haunting, troubled look at marriage and what it means to love someone over many years. It gives us a retired Norfolk couple, Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay), who we meet in the days leading up to their forty-fifth anniversary party. It’s a contained piece, hysteria-free, but full of true emotion. It begins with the arrival of a letter at the pair's rural home: a body has been discovered. Geoff’s first girlfriend, Katya, who he knew before Kate, fell off an Alpine mountain 50 years ago while they were on holiday. Now she has been found, encased in ice. It’s a small earthquake in the couple’s lives, and the aftershocks rumble, often painfully, through the week to come.

They continue to prepare for the party. But questions bubble up. Resentment and fear surface. What did Katya mean to Geoff long after her death? Has he been honest with Kate? Can you be jealous of a dead woman? Writer-director Andrew Haigh, adapting a short story by David Constantine, casts the dark shadow of time and mortality over this restrained, thoughtful story. Ageing Geoff imagines Katya’s youth preserved for ever in death. This is a ghost story with no ghost. An infidelity tale with no mistress, no lover, no dropped trousers, no secret texts. Can you betray someone with just your thoughts and memories?

This is a triumph for Haigh, whose acclaimed second film 2011’s ‘Weekend’, was the story of a brief, fun romance between two young men. There’s much less sex here. Yet Haigh’s search for meaning in everyday, ordinary behaviour, underlined this time by the past and the future suddenly coming into sharp focus, remains the same. So does his sensitive, smart concern for exploring the meaning and limits of intimacy between two people. And his cast are superb: Rampling hides an ocean of sadness beneath surface calm, while Courtenay blusters along in a very male fashion, though he too is crumbling inside. It’s a film of small moments and tiny gestures that leaves a very, very big impression.

By: Dave Calhoun


Release details

Release date:
Friday August 28 2015
93 mins

Cast and crew

Andrew Haigh
Andrew Haigh
Charlotte Rampling
Tom Courtenay
Dolly Wells

Average User Rating

3.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
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Old people in love , even having hugs - oh yuk ! But this is real life in a way most films just don't tackle. Brilliant performances ensure we feel we are dealing with real people , and the subject matter is timeless. Old flame reappears and your partner questions your feelings relative to your love for him or her. In this instance all of the emotions are amplified by 45 years of marriage. Its slow to unfold but deeply rewarding. The film asks questions it does not try to answer. The biggest question is "how would you react ? " and thats a question I have not yet been able to answer. 


I was expecting a bit more from this film given its tremendous hype. The acting is brilliant, particularly from Charlotte Rampling, but the film's conclusion didn't resolve some of the plot lines (especially just what happened to the absent character around whom the plot is centred). As a long-married woman, I can confirm that married couples act the boringly routine way depicted in the film, and I found that much more tragic than the revelation of the husband's secret. 

This is okay. Takes an age to get going, some nice dialogue from the husband. But nothing that special.

Terrific! The shadow of the past, as in Rebecca, crumbles a marriage. Masterpiece. Extraordinary performances. 

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay put in brilliant late-career performances in this masterful slow-burner in which a retired English couple see the foundation of their marriage pulled from under their feet with the arrival of a single unexpected letter from Switzerland, days before their anniversary party. It's a film of tiny moments of intense power; there's barely any plot to speak of, yet I found the end effect devastating


I watched this at Curzon Mayfair - where my friend and I were probably the youngest people there - and we were in our 40-s. I fell asleep as soon as Geoff talked about Kathia and woke up on Wednesday.

Rampling was amazing. In her graceful, confident, restrained and elegant portrayal of Kate - she was all class with a capital C. She made the perfect wife under duress. She was Fire to the Kathia that was trapped under the glacier in Switzerland.

Geoff however was driven by inertia. He wasn't good for anything but nostalgia. And disappointingly the last day - Saturday - he suddenly made an effort in the form of scrambled eggs and a walk...

The chemistry between the two leads was captured in the moment when Kate said, "I always knew I was enough for you but I wonder if you knew,"

Geoff, after being married to the wonderful Kate for the last 45 years still longs for Kathia.

I went to the cinema wanting to like the film so much. I am a fan of Rampling's works.

But it was dull. By Friday evening, I wish Geoff just die which will probably make a more dramatic turn than the ending... in which Kate realised what was the smoke that got in Geoff's eyes...

Unlike other two people films,ie Sleuth and the brilliant Dresser,this one is a bit of a flop.It is a flop for the same reason as the recent Broadbent film La Weekend,namely the writing is under par.The premise of two ageing people,full of memories and reflection is a promising one.However the actual dialogue is a bit superficial and trite.The mini plot of a former loved one dead in a glacier in Switzerland is a bit artificial. The usual excellence of Courtney's acting is just too subdued due to the poor writing.No drama,no pathos,no chemisrty between the two leads.It is overall okay,but just a wee bit dull... 2 stars..


Go and see terrific performances from  TomCourtenay and  CharlotteRampling. Unfortunately I found the narrative a little too thin to really satisfy.It just needs a little more plot.