My grandparents had been married for 50 years; they threw a party to celebrate that milestone. Their marriage did look perfect, but there were some tell signs that indicate that they too had ups and downs. My grandmother is very helpful; too helpful that sometimes people tend to abuse her generosity, and it irks my grandpa. My grandfather has a passive-aggressive attitude that sometimes, is kind of hilarious (like he would tout his grandkids not to eat sweets, but keeps a stash of dark chocolate for us if we were craving for sweets). Sometimes you’d hear them bicker, but at times they can be really endearing. It’s not hard to imagine a couple being married that long; that is an achievement in itself. But what would happen if a life changing circumstance would come between them?
That was the dilemma of Geoff and Kate Mercer. In a week, they were to throw a nice party filled with their family and friends to celebrate the milestone in their marriage. At the beginning of the film, Geoff receives a letter involving his old love, his previous love before Kate. The rest of the film have Geoff pondering what his life could have been like if he was with his old lover, and for Kate, the repercussion of his old lover’s looming presence in her marriage, with it the roots of her marriage and relationship with Geoff.
The film predominantly stays with Kate, narrating her thoughts and actions as she watched and listened to Geoff wonder out loud, picking up old habits that he used to do with his old love. As each thought and memory rises up throughout that week, Kate continues to further dig through the roots of their relationship, bringing up questions, his words continuously nagging her to think about the current truths in her life.
If faced with a similar dilemma, any reaction could be warranted. However, the writing and narration handles it very well, allowing key emotions to emerge from ateK, while keeping her grounded about her reality and allowing her to pursue in the most logical sense. Some of the conversations they had are not just in the heat of the moment kind; their words are quite subtle about the retribution it could have to their marriage.
It is a film that is very much in touch with conversations; the dramatic moments are subtle but strong. Charlotte Rampling does shine from the film because of her character’s personal dilemma. It was never explicit in the film that she was scorned, but the scars are present. I like how her character was written. It would have been interesting to see parts of the film told in Geoff’s perspective, but if we consider his behavior without any alternative motive, his dilemma was quite understandable.
It does make one think about relationships. It’s not the sacrificial or the compromising type of thinking, but rather the foundations of the relationship and how much a couple would let something life altering shake it.
Cast: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James
Director: Andrew Haigh