There is just one week until Kate Mercer's 45th wedding anniversary and the planning for the party is going well. But then a letter arrives for her husband. The body of his first love has been discovered, frozen and preserved in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps. By the time the party is upon them, five days later, there may not be a marriage left to celebrate.
ActorsStarring: Charlotte Rampling, Geraldine James, David Sibley, Richard Cunningham, Tom Courtenay, Dolly Wells
Andrew Haigh’s low-budget film follows a week in the life of an elderly married couple Kate and Geoff (played by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay), who are about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. They live a quiet life in rural Norfolk, with no children in their life but an Alsatian called Max and a few old friends.
The film is content to illustrate the mundane features of retired life: the daily routine, walking the dog, washing up etc. as we learn a little about the history of the main relationship and get to know the characters. The marriage seems a happy one, with a particularly poignant scene where they dance to an old favourite tune in their living room after a bottle of wine. A letter arrives that drags up a seemingly long forgotten relationship from Geoff’s distant past, regarding a decades-dead ex lover of his. This letter rekindles deep-held emotions, and the relationship comes under strain as Geoff is clearly troubled and Kate struggles to understand why. As they discuss it and Kate finds further background it becomes clear that the ancient relationship was no mere tryst for Geoff. Is he being entirely honest with her about it, or does it threaten to taint their trusting relationship? As we see preparations for the 45th anniversary party coming to a head we are taken deep into the couple’s emotions, their insecurities and their feelings for one another. When Geoff gives his speech at the wedding anniversary party at the climax of the film, will Kate be reassured of his devotion?
Charlotte Rampling in particular gives a magnificent performance, conveying more with a glance than most actresses manage with a lengthy monologue. It is particularly refreshing in this day and age of comic book special effects movies to watch a film on such a small scale, and where you are genuinely drawn into the feelings of the characters. A carefully constructed and thoroughly engaging film.