45 Years [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (27th June 2016).
The Film

Oscar (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role): Charlotte Rampling (nominated) - Academy Awards 2016
Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film: Andrew Haigh and Tristan Goligher (nominated) - BAFTA Awards 2016
Silver Berlin Bear (Best Actress): Charlotte Rampling (won), Silver Berlin Bear (Best Actor): Tom Courtenay (won), and Golden Berlin Bear: Andrew Haigh (nominated) - Berlin International Film Festival 2015
BSFC Award (Best Actress): Charlotte Rampling (won) - Boston Society of Film Critics Awards 2015
British Independent Film Award (Best British Independent Film): 45 Years (nominated), British Independent Film Award (Best Actor): Tom Courtenay (nominated), British Independent Film Award (Best Actress): Charlotte Rampling (nominated), British Independent Film Award (Best Director): Andrew Haigh (nominated),British Independent Film Award (Best Screenplay): Andrew Haigh (nominated), and Producer of the Year (nominated) - British Independent Film Awards 2015
Best Performance in a British Feature Film: Charlotte Rampling (won, tied with James Cosmo for The Pyramid Texts) and The Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film: Andrew Haigh (won) - Edinburgh International Film Festival 2015
European Film Award (European Actress): Charlotte Rampling (won), European Film Award (European Actor): Tom Courtenay (nominated), and European Film Award (European Screenwriter): Andrew Haigh (nominated) - European Film Awards 2015
ALFS Award (British/Irish Film of the Year): 45 Years (won), ALFS Award (Actor of the Year): Tom Courtenay (won), ALFS Award (Actress of the Year): Charlotte Rampling (won), ALFS Award (Film of the Year): 45 Years (nominated), and ALFS Award (Director of the Year): Andrew Haigh (nominated) - London Critics Circle Film Awards 2016
NSFC Award (Best Actress): Charlotte Rampling (won) and NSFC Award (Best Actor): Tom Courtenay (3rd Place) - National Society of Film Critics Awards 2016

Five days away from their forty-fifth anniversary, former schoolteacher Kate (The Night Porter's Charlotte Rampling) and retired factory middle manager Geoff Mercer (Billy Liar's Tom Courtenay) receive a letter from the Swiss authorities confirming the death of Geoff's girlfriend Katya whose body had been discovered in a glacier after she fell into a mountain fissure over fifty years ago while they were trying to cross the border into Italy. The letter extends the invitation to come to Switzerland and view the body, as Kate learns that Geoff was considered German citizen Katya's next of kin because they told people villagers along the mountains they were married so they could be allowed to sleep in their homes. The letter throws Geoff for a loop although he dismisses the idea of going to Switzerland; yet, Kate comes home after a visit to the local hall to plan the anniversary party (the forty-fifth an unusual one to celebrate but Geoff had a bypass during the fortieth) to find Geoff has once again attempted to DIY fix the downstairs lavatory and is having another got at reading Kierkegaard. In the days before the anniversary party, Geoff starts to act more and more like his old argumentative, outspoken, aggressive, and energetic self; and Kate finds this disturbing, as if not only ghost of the woman Geoff would have married had she lived was hanging over them but also the different person Geoff would become (who vehemently and irrevocably meant it when he called friend Lena [Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows' Geraldine James] a fascist for her opinion that "Thatcher hadn't done such a bad job of it"). Geoff, on the other hand, tries to convince Kate that what he is going through has nothing to do with Katya despite the omnipresence of reminders from her perfume to the discovery of old keepsakes and a slide show in the attic loft. The night before the anniversary party, the two must decide whether they can start again in the morning or if Geoff who has inquired about a trip to Switzerland can just avoid embarrassing her during the festivities ("I think I was enough for you. I'm just not sure you do").
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Adapted from the David Constantine short story "In Another Country" by writer/director Andrew Haigh (Weekend) has the acting pedigree and the slick yet calculated roughhewn indie-ness of a prestige production; but it is actually a quite insightful and moving meditation on memories as Kate ponders, "...they're the things, aren't they?" Although she logically notes that she could hardly be cross at something that happened before they existed as a couple, Kate finds herself confronting her husband's past even though she disdains pondering theoretical questions. Although she had prior knowledge of Katya, she turns out to be a major part of Geoff's life comparable for Kate to the loss of her mother the same year; and she only now realizes that neither of them have really shared anything about these times beyond seemingly the statement of their occurrence. Early on, she expresses regret that they have very few photographs as a document of their lives together ("You used to say that everybody taking pictures all the time stopped anyone having any fun") only too later have her impression of Katya's apparition more fully fleshed out by an entire slide show of the other couple's brief but memorable time together. "I think that's the worst part of getting decrepit, losing that... purposefulness," Geoff muses. Lena remarks that men are "obsessed by their obituaries, their legacies," and that it is a woman's responsibility to "nudge them into realising what's really important before they kill themselves [] with the disappointment." Kate and Geoff both need to be need nudging, and Lena inadvertently does some of the work with her anniversary party surprise. The film makes pointed use of golden oldies from Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to Be With You" and Lloyd Price's "Stagger Lee" to The Turtle's "Happy Together", Gary Puckett & The Union Gap's "Young Girl", and most effectively The Platters' "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"; the latter the song to which the couple first danced but the only one on the playlist that is suggested by the DJ instead of Kate (an oversight which may go a little ways towards explaining the final shot). As good as the supporting cast is with what little the script gives them, and as masterful as Courtenay (one of the original British New Wave angry young men) is with much of his character motivation and thought processes necessarily withheld from Kate's perspective; but it really is Rampling's show, and she is utterly compelling, owning the pregnant pauses and the lingering tails of scenes (so much so that her performance here so much more deserved its Academy Award nomination and exposure rather than the usual critical accolades her work usually commands). 45 Years is a film that will touch the minds and emotions of viewers who have not been with someone else for nearly that long.

Video

Paramount's barebones Blu-ray at least offers a typically high-standard 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen transfer of this naturalistic-looking film of perpetually overcast exteriors ("This weather..." one character remarks), with the scenes in the couple's home looking deliberately warmer than the more neutral look of the other interior and exterior scenes throughout the film.
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Audio

The sole audio option is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that is fairly restrained but does make occasional use of directional sounds that jolt the characters as well as pointed use of song lyrics low in the mix ("Young girl, get out of my mind...") as well as scenes in which the source music becomes louder and full-bodied. Optional English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles are provided.
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Extras

There are absolutely no extras, not even start-up trailers (odd compared to Scream Factory's treatment of their IFC acquisitions).
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Overall

 


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