Friday, February 4, 2011

Another Year

Mike Leigh is a unique director who achieves a unique reaction from his cast. The reaction is that of a cast that is familiar with each other, as familiar as a close knit family, and this effect is said to be achieved by Leigh working with his casts long before the cameras start rolling. Another Year doesn't so much tell a story as much as it observes. Throughout the course of four seasons, we follow Tom (the wonderful Jim Broadbent) and Gerri, a happily married elderly couple and several of the other people who come into their lives--whose existences may not be as happy or stable. One of these people is Gerri coworker Mary (Leslie Manville in a phenomenal performance) who is a mixture of optimism, pessimism, neediness, and hyperactivity. As the seasons progress, Mary begins to wear on Gerri and her family. Others we meet include Tom's brothers Ken and Ronnie, both unhappy in their own ways. There is not much by way of plot in this film and it is hard finding themes, but patient viewers will be rewarded by a film rich with fine performances and observant direction.