Friday, September 11, 2015

Review of 45 Years

I saw this a few weeks ago and still haven’t written a review – very unusual for me. I think it’s because this film affected me so much. It’s about a couple who have been married for a long time, and as they prepare to celebrate their 45th anniversary comes the news that the body of his old girlfriend, frozen in an underground glacier since she died on a walking holiday before he ever met his wife, has been found.

This unsurprisingly generates much reflection on the road not taken – what sort of life he might have had if she hadn't died. He’s sensitive enough to not do much of this in front of his wife of 45 years, but she can see that he’s doing it, and it’s painful for her, and thus for him.

My first response was that this was an example of the inherent sadness of human existence. Nobody behaves badly, and yet they both are badly hurt. Life is a collection of roads not taken, and roads taken. We make the best choices we can with the knowledge we have and the hands we are dealt, and we have to live with the consequences even – especially – when hindsight shows the choices not to have been the best they could have been. That’s why seeing any story that takes in the whole arc of a life – Pinter’s ‘Betrayals’ comes to mind, but also the brilliant puppet show about gay men 'Or You Could Kiss me' – is so moving and also so disquieting.

But I think that there’s more to this particular story. After I thought about I decided that actually the husband had done something wrong, and that this was actually the most painful thing about the story; more, that my initial failure to allow this, and read this as a story about everybody doing the best they can, actually says something about me and how I've lived my life. (I won’t say more about what it was, because it would spoil a really good film, with great acting, for anyone who hasn't seen it. If you want to know, talk to me when you've seen it; or talk to your therapist, or your partner of many years.)

Which is probably why it’s taken me so long to write the review.

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