Self-grief - a fear of confronting another "I" 0

Aušra Kaziliūnaitė, 2015-12-01

In brief: An elderly couple, Jeff (Tom Courtenay) and Kate (Charlotte Rampling) are waiting for an extraordinary event. At the end of the week they will have a big celebration - the 45th anniversary of their marriage. The banquet hall is booked, a list of songs is being put together as well as a snack menu. In Andrew Haigh's film 45 years (2015), which was shown in this year’s Scanorama even time is recorded according to the number of days left until the big event... Only suddenly, everything is perturbed when Jeff receives a letter stating that a body of his lover, who had disappeared 50 years ago was found.

At first it seems that the news, which came from another, very distant life will soon be forgotten, but it continues to disrupt the normal life of the married couple. Jeff increasingly thinks about the past and the secrets surrounding it.

Various anniversaries and annual celebrations are limitary dates that open up a crack of time, providing an opportunity to rethink the past time, to weigh the decisions made and to revalue the prevailing values.

Each anniversary - birthday or wedding anniversary - carries mourning in it. Grieving yourself as you were a year, two or more years ago; grieving your and other person's relationship that took place in the past. Each festivity celebrates becoming, which includes not only a continuous birth once again, but also a constant disappearing (as the sweetheart who had disappeared in your youth), loss and death.

Although it seems that the man is going through a difficult time trying to overcome his youth lover's death while his and his current wife's 45th wedding anniversary is approaching, in fact he is mourning the lost opportunities and wonders what would have happened if he had married that other woman if she had not died. He is mourning his current wife, because an upcoming anniversary opens up the perception that over the 45 years spent together, she is no longer the same person whom he had married then.

Mourning for the love from his youth (for the wife) actually covers one more mourning, which in fact is the most painful - it is grieving for yourself. This is reflected in the film, when during one evening Jeff tries to act with Kate like he did many years ago - dances to their favorite song and then wants to make love to her. However, when the sexual act fails he understands that his body is already different. Mourning for the lost love of youth masks the grief for the loss of former self and unconscious desire to get back into the body he was born into.

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