A forty-fifth wedding anniversary might seem to be an odd number to celebrate with a big party, but as Kate Mercer, played by Charlotte Rampling, explains early in the film, her husband was ill and they couldn’t celebrate their fortieth.
Kate and Geoff Mercer, played by Tom Courtenay, live a quiet life in the Norfolk countryside. They are happy enjoying their home, meals, and friends. The film follows the couple for five days before they celebrate their 45th anniversary. Kate deals with all the details–music, flowers, food. Although both Kate and Geoff are not real “party people,” they are looking forward to celebrating their life together.
Geoff then receives a letter from Swiss authorities that the body of his girlfriend, the police believe the woman was his wife, has been found. The woman fell to her death as the couple and a guide were hiking in the mountains many years before.
Geoff believes he has told his wife about his former girlfriend, but as the story unfolds, Kate begins to realize that this girlfriend was a very important person in Geoff’s life.
This is a movie about a mature couple who have been married for a very long time. It is a slow-paced film, which leaves the viewer to carefully observe each actor’s facial expressions. Gestures, looks, and non-verbal communication help viewers to appreciate the inner turmoil being experienced by each character, especially Kate.
Charlotte Rampling was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role in this film. She gives an emotional, controlled performance. The last scene, during the anniversary party, focuses on her face–heart broken and changed forever.