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45 YEARS 2nd September 2016

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In the beautifully acted drama “45 Years,” a marriage lives and dies; we watch its agonized struggle, like a butterfly impaled on a pin. It’s a quiet movie, taking place over a week in the lives of Kate and Geoff Mercer (Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay), a retired British couple happily anticipating a party for their 45th anniversary. In the opening scenes, Geoff receives unexpected news: The body of his long-ago girlfriend, who died in a mountain accident years before he met Kate, has been recovered. “They’ve found Katya,” he tells Kate with a quavery desperation in his voice. “My Katya.”
It’s a tiny bit of news, a pinprick, but it lets the air out of their marriage. Kate tries to make a little joke — Katya, she says, must still look like she did in 1962 — but Rampling lets the laugh die on her face. From there, the Mercers go about their lives as the week plays out, but something’s off, something’s festering. Unable to stop herself, Kate begins digging through boxes …