When the past pops up unexpectedly shortly before a couple celebrates their 45th wedding anniversary, their entire relationship comes into question. It's an interesting premise with strong characters who paint an emotional picture. Check out my full thoughts.
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what I expected when I started watching 45 Years. It starts off simply enough, when an elderly man, Geoff Mercer, receives some unexpected news: that the body of a girl he knows was finally discovered. At the start, you're not entirely sure who the girl is or what the connection is to Geoff, but it's clear she's of some importance. As things move along, more details are revealed which threaten to shake-up the long marriage these two are in the middle of trying to celebrate.
This introduction could lead in many different directions, but the movie chooses to focus on the more emotional and human element. The fact that Geoff's dead ex-girlfriend is found isn't the whole plot, but rather, how the characters DEAL with it. Kate, his wife, is the primary character in the film, as it explores how the news affects her.
As she prepares to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary with a massive party, she feels haunted by the ghost of Katya, an ex-girlfriend she never knew. Even as she knows how ridiculous that idea is, she can't seem to let it go and comes to the realization that events in her marriage may have come as a result of this figure from the past.
The interactions between the couple form the majority of the scenes in the film, as they each struggle to cope with the news. As we follow along, it becomes clear that Geoff may have never truly gotten over the loss. While he moved on and found love again, it's clear that certain decisions in his life were dictated by the accident that took his first love. As Kate begins to figure this out, she wonders how much her life has been affected by this notion, without ever realizing it. This particularly applies to the fact that they don't have any children...
Perhaps the best part of the movie is that none of this information is explicitly stated. The film is very subtle and handles the revelations deftly without beating you over the head with it. As such, you feel a much stronger emotional connection as you learn everything right along with the characters. It's easy to find yourself putting you in the same situations, and thinking how you'd handle it all.
Managing to get you, the viewer, so thoroughly into the heads of the characters with only marginal dialog and actions is an impressive feat. One that speaks to the talent of the filmmaker and the actors. While so many of the scenes feel like 'slice of life' moments of little consequence, together they make for a strong and emotional insight into married life.
As well done as 45 Years is crafted, it has some issues. Namely, the film's biggest problem is doing enough to truly hook you into it. While it's strong emotionally and will resonate with you long after viewing, it's tough to get through. Without sounding too harsh, there are parts of it that are down right boring. You're essentially watching two old people talk about their past, which isn't the easiest sell. Ultimately, I really enjoyed the film and the message it has, but I'm not sure who the target audience will be. In all honesty, if not for getting it to review, I can't say I'd have ever watched it on my own. I fear many will feel the same and will overlook this gem.
We'll have to wait and see, but if you DO come across the movie and give it a watch, I don't think you'll be wasting your time. Even now, as I write, I find myself thinking back to scenes on the film and how it made me feel. In a lot of ways it succeeds in all it's trying to do, but it's subject, by its very nature, makes it hard to start and bring audiences in.