45 Years

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
45 Years Movie Poster Image
Quietly powerful drama about marriage and memory.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 113 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Love endures, but honesty is critical. Serious themes include death and infidelity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kate and Geoff have had a long and enduring marriage but are wrestling with themselves -- and with each other -- to keep it alive.

Violence

Marital bickering.

Sex

A long-married couple sometimes shares affectionate moments, including hugs, warm caresses, and a sex scene that's notable for being more realistic than erotic. No graphic nudity.

Language

Some profanity, including "s--t" and "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters often drink wine, etc. at meals and parties or while relaxing at home. Some smoke cigarettes, including one man who resumes smoking after a long hiatus.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that 45 Years is an intense indie drama that deals with mature themes like death, infidelity, and memory, some of which might be too mature for younger viewers. (Not that they're terribly likely to be clamoring to see a movie about an aging, long-married couple anyway.) One scene shows an elderly couple having sex; there's no graphic nudity, but it's clear what they're doing. There's frank talk about one character's death, as well as strong language ("s--t," "f--k," etc.), social drinking, and smoking.

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What's the story?

Days before their 45th wedding anniversary, Geoff (Tom Courtenay) and Kate (Charlotte Rampling) get an unexpected letter containing a bombshell: A body has been found in the Swiss Alps, and it's the corpse of the woman Geoff was dating decades ago, before he met his wife (the woman fell to her death while she and Geoff were hiking together in the mountains). The news is a shock to Geoff, and while he and Kate prepare to celebrate their long and enduring relationship, he's simultaneously forced to remember his former self. And as he starts to recall old habits and fond memories, Kate is forced to reexamine the foundation of their relationship.

Is it any good?

If still waters run deep, then 45 YEARS -- a searing and powerful drama -- has fathoms beneath it. A seemingly stable relationship shifts techtonically, but the audience isn't clubbed over the head with this revolution. Instead, like lobsters sitting in increasingly boiling water, we feel the heat slowly, sometimes imperceptibly, but definitely permanently. Kudos to director Andrew Haigh, who allows the camera to capture the small but significant moments that tell the story of doubt creeping into an otherwise solid marriage. But, truly, it's stars Courtenay and Rampling who make the movie the tour de force that it is. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how 45 Years depicts marriage. Does it seem realistic? How does it compare to the way you've seen marriages portrayed in other movies and TV shows?

  • Is Kate and Geoff's marriage a good one? What makes a good marriage? How does the film address this question?

  • What role do drinking and smoking play in the story? Are they necessary to the plot?

Movie details

For kids who love dramas

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