10 out of 10

Released: 5th November 2010

Director: Mike Leigh: (Mr Turner / Happy Go Lucky / Vera Drake / All Or Nothing / Topsy Turvy / Career Girls / Secrets & Lies / Naked / Life Is Sweet / High Hopes / Mean Time / Nuts In May / Abigail’s Party)

Cast: Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Lesley Manville, Oliver Maltman, David Bradley, Peter Wight, Karina Fernandez, Martin Savage, Michele Austin with Phil Davis and Imelda Staunton

Devised: Mike Leigh


Mike Leigh’s films always revolve around a larger than life character. Sometimes the chosen actors reading of the part is too broad sending the viewers scuttling for cover (see Sally Hawkins in HAPPY GO LUCKY) but most of the times we’re graced with some of the best and most memorable parts in British cinema history.  And now we come to his latest which is my favourite so far.  I’ve been waiting for Mike Leigh perfection and I thought we very nearly had it with Naked, Life Is Sweet and All Or Nothing but then along came Another Year.  The best yet!

The story revolves around four social gatherings at a happily married couple’s – Tom and Gerri – house,  played by Jim Broadbent (LIFE IS SWEET) and Ruth Sheen (HIGH HOPES).  At each of these gatherings, work colleague Mary (LESLEY MANVILLE – SECRETS AND LIES) dominates proceedings.  She is a borderline alcoholic spinster with an unhealthy crush on Tom and Gerri’s son, Joe (OLIVER MALTMAN – HAPPY GO LUCKY).  We could also read her as suffering from an acute jealous of Tom and Gerri’s relationship.  Family barbecues, Sunday dinners and a funeral are the settings for these emotional car crashes.  Various old friends and family share some amazing scenes of naturalistic performing.  Never once was I not convinced that these could be real people.  Many of the actors like Phil Davis (JUST FOR THE RECORD) and Peter Wight (BEST LAID PLANS – 2012) have worked with Mike Leigh many times before. This comes over in this film in particular as there is a comfortable air to proceedings. No one, unusually for a Mike Leigh film, is caught grandstanding.  Mary’s meltdown has been seen too many times for them to do much more than share a private raised eyebrow between themselves.  In the latter scenes where Mary is alone with Tom’s brother, Ronnie (DAVID BRADLEY – HARRY POTTER – PARTS 1 – 8) is where we get to understand her a little bit more and she colours her self-centred maniac with some sympathy.  The brilliant ending will leave room for a interesting discussion too.

So here we have it, probably the closest Mike Leigh’s come to movie perfection for me, and there are no car crashes, no fist fights, no explosions.  My perfect movie can have all these things, but of it’s type – and this is a people movie – this is a diamond. Even the smallest roles are given care and everyone delivers pitch perfect performances. Lesley Manville deserves just about every award going and it’s hard to believe she will ever be better.

10 out of 10 – My first Britpic to get full marks.  The first Mike Leigh film to get full marks despite being a great fan of his but after the annoying Happy Go Lucky this is more than a peak performance.  Best ever all round. Its a few years old now, but if you haven’t seen it give it a look. You won’t be sorry. What an ending!



One thought on “ANOTHER YEAR

  1. Another Year – REVIEW by BATGIRL 101
    When you think of a Mike Leigh film, your immediate thoughts will probably be gritty, deep and raw. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Mike Leigh’s 2010 hit Another Year is intriguing with its troubled main character, one (and only one) happy family, along with other narrative strands of a rather complex, saddening nature. But the ending? Sorry Leigh, I wasn’t impressed…
    The story is broken into four seasons, and revolves around happily-married all-round good people, Tom and Gerri (supposedly funny name). Tom (Jim Broadbent) is a Geologist, whilst wife Gerri (Ruth Sheen) is a Counsellor. To the family’s gatherings comes Mary (Lesley Manville), Gerri’s friend of 20 years and colleague. Mary is your average spinster; a failed marriage, rejected mistress and suggested alcoholic, with a highly inappropriate crush on Gerri’s son Joe (Oliver Maltman). Now here is where my gears become ground: Mary is quite clearly a character in desperate need. She shows high levels of anxiety with her irrational behaviour, excessive alcohol consumption and a child-like dependency upon Gerri. So how come, Mikey, Gerri, the COUNSELLOR, simply raises her eyebrows at Mary behind her back? Why doesn’t she give her the support she needs, or book her an appointment with, if not herself, a counsellor? Gerri even allows Mary to drive a car under a high influence of wine! It is only at the diabolical ending of the film that we see Gerri suggest to Mary that she should ‘get help’. This was my main issue with the film.
    The ending of the film is on a whole other level. Whilst I sat back and watched in a mild contempt, I suddenly felt an overwhelming sensation of horror that the film was about to… well… end. After 3 months of no contact with Gerri, Mary presents herself at Tom and Gerri’s house to apologise for a bout of bad behaviour towards Joe’s new girlfriend, Katy (Karina Fernandez). The family make amends with Mary, and all seems well at the dinner table. As the family dine and wine, the camera pans round to a vacant-looking Mary. When all sound of chit-chat is muted, Mary is shown and… BAM! Ending credits, the film is over! As a self-confessed loather of open-ended films, I genuinely felt like I had wasted 129 minutes of my life to gain no resolution to a film that had evoked a depressive mood within me.
    On a positive note, the acting across the entire cast was superb. I found myself forgetting that what I was watching was simply production and not reality. Lesley Manville’s interpretation of a mentally-ill individual was sublime and incredibly realistic.
    6 out of 10 – So overall I felt that this film was a good watch. Perhaps my points of negativity were largely due to the quality of acting being so good that I found myself forgetting that this was simply a movie, not reality. The film is very cleverly crafted, however, I can’t say it is one I would watch again through choice.

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