Lina Lamont

"What do you think I am, dumb or something?"

Another Year

This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 17th April 2011

There is something almost comforting about seeing the words “Written and Directed by Mike Leigh” as a film starts.  It’s like you’re being invited to a dinner party of three-dimensional characters, many of whom you recognise from your own life, and others you hope never to meet in reality.

Following the over-the-top but surprisingly successful Happy-Go-Lucky, Another Year harks back to Leigh’s quality, lower-key dramas like Secrets and Lies and All or Nothing.  The film revolves around the happy marriage of Tom and Gerri (Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen), two of the gentlest, most grounded people you’ll ever see in a Mike Leigh film.  The action, such as it is, comprises meals with their emotionally charred friends and family.  As is traditional, the dialogue is simple, focussing on everyday matters, and the dramatic tension – which, despite the
apparently laid-back approach, is at times excruciating – rides on interpersonal dealings.

Lesley Manville, a Leigh staple here gets the Brenda Blethyn role of Mary – a self-involved piece of mutton whose lamb costume could be convincing were it not for her obvious desperation.  Playing the “glass-half-full” while complaining about every misfortune, Mary’s glass is in fact usually drained before a sentence is complete.  In some hands this could be car-wreck drama – but writer/director Leigh treats his characters with sensitivity, giving them lines that say one thing and a face that says the opposite.

The film starts with a clinically depressed woman being asked “What is the one thing that would improve your life?” to which she answers: “A different life”.  But it’s not all doom and gloom.  As the seasons turn, we are kept guessing who will have done what, with whom, in the intervening months.  And as the story unfolds, we are never disappointed.

Advertisements

Single Post Navigation

One thought on “Another Year

  1. juliem on said:

    Girl, you have really hit your stride!

    Julie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: