45 Years is a story of both love, and heartbreak that we rarely get to see in its entirety.
Kate and Geoff Mercer are in the process of planning their 45th wedding anniversary, when a ghost from Geoff’s past confronts them, unearthing long-buried secrets. 45 Years follows Kate and Geoff through the process of heartbreak, bringing longevity to experiences we silently assume have expiration dates.
Typically limited to themes of death, sickness, and regret, 45 Years breaks the mold for films about seniors. Andrew Haigh takes emotions we associate with youth, and injects them into a story about an old married couple. Geoff slowly and silently isolates himslef from Kate, slipping deep into a solitary world of old memories of a past life. Kate, meanwhile, tries to adjust. She navigates through a journey of suspicion, denial, and and horrifying realization – a journey we have seen in films before, and many of us have experienced ourselves, but 60 years old, Kate’s experience moves away from the idea that she can’t experience romantic torment.
Moments of deep thought, and prolonged silences run rampant throughout the film, which works well, because anyone who has experienced heartbreak needs no reminder what it sounds like. These quiet moments give the audience time to fill the gaps with the sounds of pain drawn from their own memory and experience. Kate doesn’t explain her anguish, and we don’t need her to because we already know. The story effectively pulls together an unusual community of young and old, tied to one another by a common experience none wish to know. However, heartbreak, much like death, is inevitable regardless of age.