Life is cruel. Some of us who live it are dealt a good hand while
others seemed destined for sadness.
Mike Leigh explores this theme by throwing us into a year in the life
of an ageing couple Tom and Jerry. Following them through the spring,
summer, autumn and winter, we join them in their encounters with old
friends, work colleagues and close family who are either looking to the
future with optimism and hope or see it as a gaping black hole of more
heartbreak and unhappiness.
Mike Leigh's portrait of life in Another Year is both painful and
bitter yet uplifting and hopeful, much like life itself. It's rare that
a movie captures what it means to be alive with such raw honesty and it
makes his latest drama essential viewing. Moreover, much like the real
world, it doesn't come in a neatly wrapped package with a traditional
structure. Characters appear and then disappear without finding what
they're looking for and the movie ends on a note that leaves one of the
main characters, Mary, in a position where things may or may not change
for her. Leigh's movie, because of this, continues to haunt you long
after you have left the cinema.
Both his writing and direction are as good as they've ever been here.
The former is so naturalistic that you completely forget sometimes that
you're watching a work of fiction sometimes whilst remaining dramatic,
powerful and occasionally hilarious. The latter is also faultless with
each of the four seasons of Another Year having its own appearance and
tone which complements both the characters' and narrative's
The aforementioned Mary is brought to life in a stunning performance by
Lesley Manville who will surely be up for Best Actress at the Oscars.
Also worthy of note are Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen who have a
chemistry as good as any on-screen couple in cinematic history.
One of the finest films of the year so far, Another Year is a movie so
rich that it demands multiple viewings and is as affecting, moving and
honest an insight of life as you're likely to find. It stands right up
there with the very best of his work.