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Another Year

A 2010 film written and directed by Mike Leigh

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Another year; another Mike Leigh film that delights and touches the heart.

  • Jun 26, 2011
**** out of ****

Assuming that every movie critic is a living, breathing human being; it's very hard to believe that anyone would NOT like "Another Year". It is a very human drama. We can all relate to it in some context. Whether we feel for the characters or not, it has an atmosphere that suits this "relatable" narrative. I came to appreciate the film the more I thought about it. I tried to absorb it the best I could, and I did so like an eager sponge. And I was eager all right; I wanted to love "Another Year". I switched on the DVD player and put in the disk expecting to be delighted, and I was.

Here is the kind of film that neither leaves you in a good mood, a pleasant mood, nor a bad mood. The film expresses all kinds of emotions. What we bring out of the viewing experience is in our hands; we get to play good, as far as opinions go. Mike Leigh, the director behind "Another Year", is a fine filmmaker with an admiration for seeking out humanity. While "Another Year" is sometimes very pleasant and entertaining, Leigh sees the unhappiness in the air, and he sees how it often invades our little world. And he is not afraid to exploit it.

An old, married couple Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen) are in a healthy, long relationship. Their love is undying. They are surrounded by people who envy their happiness; and want to be as content. One of their admirers is Gerri's friend Mary; a lonely receptionist who is seldom happy, and the only time she smiles or laughs is in a drunken fit. Mary cannot deal with herself and her isolation; she lust after Tom and Gerri's son, Joe. But he does not see her in the same way, and soon finds his own love, somewhere.

Tom and Gerri are almost always happy throughout the film. There is a funeral that takes place; Tom's brother's wife has passed. This is the only moment where melancholy seeps in through the cracks and tries to fit into the lives of the two happy lovers. But they soon eliminate such negativity, and life goes on.

The film chronicles four seasons, making up another fine year of marriage. In the beginning, there is a barbeque, which involves another family friend, the sluggish and quite overweight Ken (Peter Wight, the bartender of "Hot Fuzz"). Let's just say that he tries to make a move on one of the characters, and it doesn't work in the slightest. And then, the movie ends when it ends; leaving us to discover what may happen next. Let's just say by the end, everybody is happy. Except for the melancholic, forever depressed Mary. She may never find happiness; and others may never see her savage urge. But that is her problem, although we'd love to make it ours.

I say this because Mike Leigh has crafted such a humanistic drama, that we can't help but care for the characters who lack the ability to be happy. Happy and unhappy characters alike, each actor is competent and even fascinating in their role. Jim Broadbent is a wonderful actor, and he is spectacular as Tom. Ruth Sheen is charming and refreshingly mellow as Gerri. Lesley Manville is sensationally moving as Mary. And Peter Wight is clumsy, and even kind of charming, as the fat and insensitive Ken.

I admit; these characters are often predictable. Leigh writes the film to feel this way, so this was intentional. We know that every conversation involving Tom and Gerri is going to be rather pleasant and light-hearted, while every conversation involving Mary will most likely be sad, painful, and deep. I liked these characters for their predictability, rather than despise them. They are each delightful and likable in their own way, and when one calls for sympathy, I was openly sympathetic. Simply put, "Another Year" is two hours of pure emotional spectacle, and you wouldn't want to miss that.

This is a film that chronicles daily life. It probably didn't need to be made, but regardless, it was made; and it was made well. I liked Mike Leigh's screen-play as well as his pleasant and masterful treatment of the material, as the director as well as the writer. Mike Leigh knows how to exploit social embarrassment, social anxiety, human urges, sadness, happiness, and whatever-else. He knows how to make us want to watch these things, without buttering up his situations. He is a great filmmaker, and this is a great film. I cannot say that everyone will absolutely adore it, but it is a pleasant and uplifting, albeit sometimes quite sad film. Whether the title means anything truly important, which it just might, is for another day; another time; and another year.

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August 06, 2011
Great review! This sounds like an intriguing film, might have to check it out!
More Another Year reviews
review by . June 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Mike Leigh has always been known for making movies more about characters than stories, building his script around the improvisation of his actors as they learn who their characters really are.   With his last two films, he seems to be trying something else as well; he wants to tell stories about happy people.  I loved “Happy-Go-Lucky,” his last film, which starred Sally Harris as an eternally cheery schoolteacher who refuses to let the satanic ramblings of her driving instructor …
review by . January 15, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I'll take another and another after that
ANOTHER YEAR   Written and Directed by Mike Leigh   Starring Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen and Lesley Manville       Gerri: Change is hard, isn’t it?   Janet: Nothing changes.       Aging is one of those human experiences that, if we’re fortunate enough to get up there that is, is essentially universal in theory.  In practice though, some of us age much more gracefully than others.  Some of us age while …
review by . December 31, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
If “Another Year” comes off as unsatisfying, perhaps that’s a testament to director Mike Leigh’s affinity for depicting real life as it naturally unfolds. The movie doesn’t have much of a plot, but it does have a strong sense of character, believable dialogue, and a definite theme, namely that life simply goes on. It’s about ordinary people with ordinary problems; they may initially seem otherworldly, but they become more real as the film progresses, and by the …
review by . January 31, 2011
"Another Year" opens with an incredibly depressed woman (Imelda Staunton, who starred in "Vera Drake") undergoing a doctor-mandated therapy session in order to obtain sleeping pills. This sets the tone for the rest of the film, in which several of the main characters are absolutely miserable.      Gerri, the therapist, and her husband Tom, a geologist, are the happy ones. Now about sixty, they've been together since college. They garden together, they …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #3
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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