45 Years, recently released in cinemas, is on the surface a film about the span of time. Kate and Geoff Mercer are approaching their 45th wedding anniversary, living steadily and seeing out their retirement in a Norfolk village, taking each day up with their well-known routines. On one ordinary day, not long before their anniversary, Geoff receives a letter with the news that the body of his former girlfriend – missing after an accident on the Swiss mountains fifty years previous – has been found. The revelation proves to be devastating to the couple, and beneath the settled surface memories and the shadows of time gone by – and not experienced at all – rise up once more.
The film, starring acclaimed actors Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay as its leads, has received glowing reviews by critics and is being talked up as a potential candidate to be in line for a BAFTA next year, after already receiving plaudits for both actors at the Berlin Film Festival 2015. Seeing it on the big screen, it may be surprising to hear that it started life as a short story written by patron of The Reader David Constantine and was first featured in Issue 9 of The Reader magazine all the way back in 2001.
In Another Country – the original title of the story – subsequently became part of Under The Dam, Constantine’s 2005 collection of short stories, and reprinted as the title story in a new collection from Comma Press, released next week. The film adaptation alters a number of elements from the story, so even if you have already seen the film it’s well worth reading In Another Country to look at the tale from another perspective. Since its first publication in The Reader, the story has proved a popular, absorbing and thought-provoking choice in many of our shared reading groups – even as recently as this week, where one of our groups in London read it, and found the struggles of characters moving.
David Constantine has continued to be a regular contributor to The Reader in the past 14 years in both poetic and story form, most recently featuring in Issue 55. You can find our very own Brian Nellist a.k.a Nellibobs reading his ‘Mid-afternoon in another narrow bed’ on YouTube here.
His story Witness will be featured in The Reader’s upcoming anthology A Little, Aloud with Love, to be published in January 2016.
45 Years is currently showing at selected cinemas across the country.