It’s spring in Norfolk, England. It’s cold, clammy, always foggy, and there are puddles on the roads. Kate Mercer (Charlotte Rampling) and her husband Geoff Mercer (Tom Courtenay) are a week away from a party celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary. It’s the 45th, because during the 40th, Geoff was getting a bypass. They are a retired couple living a quiet life of long-forged routines. She takes their dog Max for walks. He putters around the house.
Then, one day, a letter arrives. The body of his first love, Katie, has been discovered. During a trek in the Alps 53 years before she fell into a crevasse and was never found. Through global warming, the glacier was receding, and her fully preserved body was surfacing. We don’t find out how the authorities know how to contact him. But we do find out that he has not told everything to his wife.
Kate finds herself jealous of a woman 53 years dead, who was with Geoff many years before they had even met. Over the next few days, they are forced to face realities of life, and what it means to have a marriage of 45 years.
Do we ever really know the person we are with? Do we carry secrets with us that nobody knows about anymore? And if we do, like I suspect we all do, are there bodies in the ice that can surface to bring it all out?
45 Years is a story about life and growing old. The traces of the passion we felt when we were young are still there, fleeting and passing, just intense enough to make us yearn, and sometime cry a little when we are alone. We all have to carry our own experiences with us, enshrined in our memories, and only seldom does anyone else get a glimpse inside.