There is just one week until Kate Mercer’s forty-fifth wedding anniversary and the planning for the party is going well. But then a letter arrives for her husband. The body of his first love has been discovered, frozen and preserved in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps. By the time the party is upon them, five days later, there may not be a marriage left to celebrate.
Married for 45 years, without children, Kate and Geoff Mercer are poised to celebrate their wedding anniversary with a party, when Geoff receives a letter that shakes both of them. The letter, from Switzerland, lets him know that a body has been found: that of Katya, his girlfriend before Kate, who died falling into a fissure in a glacier when the couple were on a walking holiday in 1962. Geoff tells Kate that he was regarded as Katya’s next-of-kin, since they had been pretending to be married. Though Kate continues to prepare for the party, and the couple shares some romantic excitement about it, she becomes increasingly disturbed by Geoff’s preoccupation with Katya. Geoff begins smoking again; reminisces at length about his carefree time with his previous love; seeks out photographs of her in the attic; and complains bitterly about the way his contemporaries and ex-colleagues have aged. Under Kate’s questioning, he states that he would have married Katya had she lived. While Geoff is at a work lunch, Kate searches the attic and finds slides of Katya, which reveal that she was pregnant at the time of her death. As the celebrations grow closer, they delve further into their past, leaving their future in question.

Director's Statement

There was something heart-breaking to me about the story of a relationship faltering at its final hurdle. It was as if this reminder of the past, this preserved body in the ice, had been waiting for its moment to throw everything into chaos, into a very quiet internal chaos. Through the cracks in the earth come all of those doubts and fears, all of those things unsaid over the years, emotions repressed and kept hidden. It’s as if Kate and Geoff’s whole relationship, from the foundation up, is suddenly called into question by a woman who no longer exists.
The original short story was beautifully clear and concise but for the adaptation it needed some expansion. Apart from adding the anniversary party, the biggest change was to lower characters’ ages from mid-80s to late 60/early 70s. The original time frame meant the story was set in the 1990s and the backstory was during the Second World War. I wanted the story of Kate and Geoff to feel very present-tense. I didn’t want it to be about the choices of an older generation now gone, but a story about the choices we all have to make. I also decided to tell the story solely from Kate’s perspective, which was different from the original story. There are many films and works of fiction that deal with the male existential crisis and I wanted to take a different perspective on the story.

Links / Reference

Andrew Haigh worked as an assistant editor on films such as GLADIATOR and BLACK HAWK DOWN before debuting as a writer/director with the short film OIL. In 2009 he directed his first feature-length film, GREEK PETE which debuted at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and won the Artistic Achievement Award at Outfest.
His break-out film, WEEKEND, premiered at the SXSW Film Festival winning the Emerging Visions Audience Award before being released world-wide. It went on to win numerous awards including two British Independent Film Awards and an Evening Standard Award for Best Screenplay. Andrew also won the London Film Critics Award for Best Breakthrough Filmmaker. The film appeared on many ‘best of year’ lists including the New York Times and the film has since received a prestigious Criterion Collection release.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Andrew Haigh

Written by: Andrew Haigh

Produced by: Tristan Goligher

Cinematography: Lol Crawley

Editing: Jonathan Alberts

Production Design: Sarah Finlay

Costume Design: Suzie Harman

Sound Design: Joakim Sundström

Cast: Charlotte Rampling (Kate Mercer), Tom Courtenay (Geoff Mercer), Geraldine James (Lena), Dolly Wells (Charlotte), David Sibley (George), Sam Alexander (Chris the postman), Richard Cunningham (Mr. Watkins), Hanna Chalmers, Camille Ucan (café waitress), Rufus Wright

Nominations and Awards

  • European Actress 2015
  • European Actor 2015
  • European Screenwriter 2015
  • Feature Film Selection 2015