The letter is from someone he loved and lost nearly 50 years previously,but inevitably brings some memories back to him, and as he talks to his wife she realises he hasn’t been entirely honest with her, and becomes anxious and uncertain herself.
That’s really it, as far as the plot goes. This is not a fast-action film, nor is there really any mystery or even growth. The ending is positive, on the whole, but leaves the story open; it could go either way. The reason this film won awards is not the plot, but the way it’s made.
Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling as the couple Geoff and Kate are superb. Initially shown as comfortably and contentedly married, walking their dog, going into town, doing errands, we gradually discover that there are many depths to their marriage and to Geoff’s past. The scenery is pleasant, the pace slow but absolutely right for a character-based emotive story.
The film is divided into days, each introduced briefly, as we see Kate making preparations for the party; sufficient is shown to see that this is going to be a big occasion, but never so much that it becomes dull. The problems inherent in growing older are shown without self-pity; Geoff had a serious medical problem four years earlier which is why they are celebrating 45 years rather than 40.
I was a little puzzled about when the film was supposed to be set. Made in 2015, it mentioned 1962 as the date when Geoff’s tragedy occurred, and that he was 25 at the time. Presumably he met Kate a few years later, and I thought at first that it must be fully contemporary; much of it seems to be appropriate to current country life. Kate wears jeans, a travel agent uses a modern flat screen terminal; yet neither of the pair have mobile phones and in the scenes showing them walking through crowds of people in the town, there was not a single person staring at or using a phone, which suggests perhaps the earlier part of the 21st century.
Rated 15 (R in the United States), presumably because there is one drawn-out intimate bedroom scene; nothing explicit as such but from the dialogue and implications it’s clear what is going on. There’s no violence or smoking or nudity, and only a few instances of bad language; however, I can’t imagine that the storyline would be of the slightest interest to children, or indeed anyone under the age of about forty.
Review by Sue F copyright 2016 Sue's DVD Reviews