Kate and Geoff have a week to go until their party, celebrating their 45th anniversary. The childless couple live comfortably in a small Norfolk town, until shattering news arrives for Geoff – his ex-girlfriend’s body has been found, 50 years after she slipped into an Alpine crevasse. Writer-Director Andrew Haigh brings us a fascinating study of marriage, memory, and time that is as charming as it is devastating.
While it was adapted from a short story by David Constantine, there’s only a passing resemblance to the original material. Haigh has developed the central image of a 50-year-old relationship returning to the present day, perfectly-preserved, into a spellbinding account of how time doesn’t heal all wounds. Both Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling are effortlessly good as Geoff and Kate, but the overall focus is on Rampling, and she is magnificent. There is an improvisational tone during certain exchanges that just adds to the sense of realism, the director knowing he can rely on the efforts of the two actors to play around with the script. This same tone can be found in Haigh’s previous work, 2011’s Weekend, which is similarly focused on the relationship between two people over a short time-frame, in that case two men falling in love following a one-night stand. (It’s brilliant. Go watch it!) Another similarity between this and Weekend is how expertly is captures England. Rarely do I see films that so successfully translate the feel of modern English life, whether it be nights out in Norwich or a small town on the Norfolk Broads.