45 Years | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

45 Years

Andrew Haigh’s melodrama examines a long-time marriage recalibrated by a bit of news

Just five days before an English couple will host a party to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary, a small occurrence casts worrisome shadows over the seemingly sunny relationship. Geoff (Tom Courtenay) receives a letter stating that the body of his long-ago German girlfriend has been found; she had fallen into a crevasse during an Alpine hike. Inconsequential news, perhaps — his wife, Kate (Charlotte Rampling) already knew of the accident. 

But the arrival of the letter causes Geoff to root around in his memory (and his stored-away boxes in the attic), and then behave rather peevishly. Kate carries on party-planning (brave face to the world, and all that), while Geoff’s manner causes her to recalibrate their relationship — specifically, whether she meant as much to Geoff as she had once assumed.

It’s a slow burn of a domestic crisis, less an unraveling of a relationship, than one that suffers an injury. But it’s no less heartbreaking and perhaps even more devastating. Director Andrew Haigh (Weekend, HBO’s Looking) has a gift for illuminating the nuances of human behavior with small everyday moments and casual conversation. And for his leads, he has two pros, with Rampling doing fantastic work here.