Going into the Academy Awards, Charlotte Rampling had a very good chance of winning a Best Actress statue — for a while. But her ill-conceived remarks about the diversity problems of the Academy could easily cost her a well-deserved prize for her role in 45 Years. In this quiet drama she plays a Kate, just a week away from her 45th wedding anniversary when she suddenly finds the underpinnings of her marriage in question, as a letter arrives to let her husband Geoff know that the perfectly preserved corpse of his true love Katya has been found, 50+ years after she disappeared into a crevasse in the Swiss Alps while on a hiking trip with him.
There is nothing nefarious about it. Just a tragic accident that until the letter’s arrival Kate had known almost nothing of. Strange that it slipped his mind to tell her about it, but then seeing the powerful effect this news has on him, Kate begins to question their entire relationship. I have to admit that when her refers to the dead girl as “My Katya,” I could feel her pain and her sense of betrayal. And there is more to the secret love story that Kate discovers later that makes it even harder for her to reconcile her 45 years with Geoff. So much of the film is her reactions, with the camera lingering on her face, revealing hurt and confusion. And between the couple there is so much more unsaid than spoken.
This is a quietly devastating film and Rampling’s performance is outstanding. 45 Years calls into question what we actually know about those who are closest to us. It is a very self-reflective film experience and if that is something you enjoy, I’d highly recommend it.