Wednesday, 21 February 2018

45 years. "It's funny how you forget the things in life that make you happy"

The opening credits play like a slide show. Every time before a new name appears on the screen, there is the unmistakable click of a slide projector.

45 Years [based on the story In Another Country by David Constantine] painting a haunting portrait of the marriage of the Mercers, a comfortably-off childless couple, in the five days leading up to their 45th wedding anniversary celebrations.

Party plans are going well, until, out of the blue, a letter arrives for Geoff (Tom Courtenay) informing him that the body of his first love, Katya, has been found frozen in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps, half a century after she was lost.

For Geoff, the thawing of this passion frozen in his past taunts him with thoughts of what might have been. For Kate (Charlotte Rampling), the discovery of a former lover she cannot compete with casts a sad, new light on the couple’s future - and everything she thought their marriage was.

How much can you truly know of another person, however long you have been married? And how can a love, weathered by day-to-day living, ever compete with one cut off in its prime?

An extract from In Another Country

What worried Mrs Mercer suddenly took shape. Into the little room came a rush of ghosts. She sat down opposite him and both felt cold.

That Katya, she said.

Yes, he said. They’ve found her in the ice.

I see, said Mrs Mercer. After a while she said: I see you found your book.

Yes, he said. It was behind the pickles. You must have put it there.

I suppose I must, she said.

It was an old Cassell’s. There were words in the letter, in the handwriting, he could not make out and words in the dictionary he could hardly find, in the old Gothic script; still, he had understood.

Years since I read a word of German, he said. Funny how it starts coming back to you when you see it again.

I daresay, said Mrs Mercer. The folded cloth lay between them on the polished table.

It’s this global warming, he said, that we keep hearing about.

What is? she asked.

Why they’ve found her after all this time. Though he was the one with the information his face seemed to be asking her for help with it.

The snow’s gone off the ice, he said. You can see right in. And she’s still in there just the way she was.

I see, said Mrs Mercer.

She would be, wouldn’t she, he added, when you come to think about it.

Yes, said Mrs Mercer, when you come to think about it I suppose she would.
Again, with his face and with a slight lifting of his mottled hands he seemed to be asking her to help him comprehend.

Well, she said after a pause during which she drew the cloth towards her and folded it again and then again. Can’t sit here all day. I’ve got my club.

Yes, he said. It’s Tuesday. You’ve got your club.

She rose and made to leave the room but halted in the door and said: What are you going to do about it?

Do? he said. Oh nothing. What can I do?

All day in a trance. Katya in the ice, the chaste snow drawn off her.

He cut himself shaving, stared at his face, tried to fetch out the twenty-year-old from under his present skin. Trickle of blood, pink froth where it entered the soap.

He tried to see through his eyes into wherever the soul or spirit or whatever you call it lives that doesn’t age with the casing it is in.

The little house oppressed him. There were not enough rooms to go from room to room in, nowhere to pace.

He looked into the flagstone garden but the neighbours either side were out and looking over.

It drove him only in his indoor clothes out and along the road a little way to where the road went down suddenly steeply and the estate of all the same houses was redeemed by a view of the estuary, the mountains and the open sea.

He stood there thinking of Katya in the ice. Stood there so long the lady whose house he was outside standing there came out and asked: Are you all right, Mr Mercer?

Fine, he said, and saw his own face mirrored in hers, ghastly.

I’m too old, he thought. I don’t want it all coming up in me again. We’re both of us too old. We don’t want it all welling up in us again.

But it had begun.

In Another Country by David Constantine
- source

Kate: I can hardly be cross with something that happened before we existed, right? Still…

Kate: Sometimes I think it’s a shame not to have more photos around the house. I guess we didn’t see the point of taking pictures of ourselves. Would have been a bit vain.
Geoff: You used to say that everybody taking pictures all the time stopped anyone from having any fun.
Kate: Sounds like something I’d say… Now that we’re older, though… it’s a shame. …I suppose we don’t realize at the time, but those memories… they’re the things, aren’t they?

Geoff: What? You really believe you haven't been enough for me?
Kate: No. I think I was enough for you. I'm just not sure you do.

Kate: You used to love your birdwatching.
Geoff: I did, yes.
Kate: It's funny how you forget the things in life that make you happy.

Подготовила Е. Кузьмина ©
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