45 Years

45 YEARS, drama, rated R, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts and Vi­o­let Crown, 3.5 chiles

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO -

“They’ve found Katya.” Ge­off (Tom Courte­nay), sit­ting at the kitchen ta­ble of his com­fort­able coun­try house in the county of Nor­folk, Eng­land, is piec­ing his way through a let­ter in Ger­man that has just ar­rived in the mail from Switzer­land. He looks up, dumb­struck, and tells his wife, Kate (Char­lotte Ram­pling), the news. Katya was Ge­off’s girl­friend be­fore he met and mar­ried Kate. She fell into a crevasse while they were hik­ing a Swiss Alpine glacier and was never found. Now global warm­ing is melt­ing the glacier, and Katya’s body, along with a lot of long-frozen and -buried mem­o­ries and emo­tions, is com­ing to light.

Di­rec­tor An­drew Haigh ( Week­end) uses this tale (based on David Con­stan­tine’s short story “In An­other Coun­try”) and the con­sid­er­able tal­ents of his vet­eran stars, to ex­plore the way lives can turn on a mo­ment. Katya’s life turned and ended on the slip of a foot. Ge­off and Kate’s life to­gether — span­ning a com­fort­able 45 years that they’re about to cel­e­brate — turns on the open­ing of that let­ter. Kate (the sim­i­lar­ity of the women’s names can be no co­in­ci­dence) goes on with her life, hir­ing a hall and mak­ing plans for the an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion. But she finds her­self shaken to the core by the reemer­gence of the ghost of the girl her hus­band loved be­fore he loved her — the girl he lost so dra­mat­i­cally. The com­fort of their mar­ried life is sud­denly and dis­con­cert­ingly on un­sta­ble ground.

Some things in life are the work of a mo­ment, and some are pulled along by the grav­ity of grad­ual change. Ge­off is be­gin­ning the slow, painful process of los­ing his abil­ity to re­mem­ber, and here comes Katya, a dis­tant but vivid mem­ory. Here are Ge­off and Kate, their youth­ful beauty eroded by time, and here comes Katya, pre­served in ice, her body as fresh and young as it was on that fate­ful day al­most half a cen­tury ago.

Courte­nay and Ram­pling de­liver on their life­time of ex­pe­ri­ence in act­ing and in liv­ing, giv­ing us touch­ing, haunt­ingly nu­anced per­for­mances that re­flect not only the char­ac­ters they are play­ing here, but their own youth­ful selves as well, the echoes of their ’60s break­throughs — she in Ge­orgy

Girl and he in The Lone­li­ness of the Long Dis­tance Run­ner. The prob­lems re­leased through the open­ing of that Pandora’s let­ter may be pa­pered over with time — and with the de­ter­mi­na­tion not to let them de­stroy a mar­riage that has been care­fully nur­tured through the decades — but they are there now, out in the world, do­ing their mis­chief. And per­haps they al­ways were. — Jonathan Richards

Red let­ter day: Tom Courte­nay and Char­lotte Ram­pling

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