- Director: Mike Leigh
- Genre(s): Drama, Comedy
- More Details and Credits »
May 17, 2011I feel as though there is a several thousand word review in me to discuss the new Mike Leigh film, Another Year, which was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, but I have to admit this is a film that, though I love for many reasons, I feel not many people I know will ever see it, and so I'm going to sum up my thoughts with a brief reflection.
Mary (Leslie Manville) gives one of the absolute best performances I have seen in film, as an aging alcoholic woman who is alone and depressed and desperate but cannot see what she needs to do to change anything. She frequently visits with a co-worker Gerri (Ruth Sheen) who is happily married to Tom (Jim Broadbent) and they seem to tolerate her because they are basically good people living a healthy life together. This is a British film set in the London area with realistic people playing very realistic roles. The film is told through the 4 seasons and takes us through many emotions, but it is totally in the character of Mary that we lose ourselves as we contemplate her sadness, but as Mike Leigh does so well, we don't just see one side from the other characters around this central figure, we see the entire spectrum of good and bad.
I would not suggest this film for many people I know, but I would recommend it to anyone who loves a great movie about real life.… Expand
Feb 23, 2011This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Mary(Leslie Manville) is a "glass half-full kind of girl" living in a glass half-empty world, a diegetic world where problems don't magically resolve themselves before the credits start rolling, as if on cue. In a different film, the coquettish act that the middle-aged woman puts on for Joe(Oliver Maltman), the much-younger son of Gerri(Ruth Sheen), Mary's "friend", wouldn't be so cringe-inducing. At a party, Mary asks the thirty-year-old man out for drinks, and the moviegoer feels so embarrassed on her behalf, because this lush, in spite of the make-up and youthful-looking wardrobe, isn't fooling anybody with her grab for relative youth. Fishing for a compliment, Mary asks Joe to guess her age, and not wanting to encourage any further advances from the old lady, the unmarried man jokingly guesses "sixty...seventy," before falling silent, because a lie(to say that she could pass for her late-thirties or early-forties) would be even more cruel than the truth. She's not aging well; that's the sad truth, but still the woman insists on wearing a flower in her hair, clinging on to the belief that she possesses a vestige of her former sexual allure. And you know it once existed, this sexual allure, just by the way she carries herself. Back in the day, Mary must have been hot, which would account for Tom's patience with this cougar in heat. Somewhere in his adult self lies the who once fancied his mother's sexy friend from work, and Mary seems to know what sort of effect she had on men, young and old alike, in her prime, as she fulfills a possible boyhood fantasy of Tom's when she feigns to enter his treehouse. Quite tellingly, late in "Another Year", Tom remembers that Mary once worked as a **** waitress in Corfu, an island in Greece, which to a boy of ten, must have been exceedingly exotic. At another time, Mary had a job in New York. It's this happier time, years that overlapped with Gerri's knowing of her as the medical group's secretary, which is key to understanding "Another Year", a miserablist film with no exit. Happily married to Tom(Jim Broadbent), thriving professionally as a psychotherapist, the moviegoer has to consider their younger incarnations to make sense of this unlikely association. Twenty years earlier, Mary must have been a lot of fun to be around, a kooky, free-spirit singleton that a married woman with son in-tow might have secretly envied. When Mary makes reference to an old flame, a married man, in, what we gather, another of her frequent drunken spiels, it's Tom, not Gerri, who sides with her. While the husband calls this ex-lover "a duplicitous s*it", the wife ungenerously reminds Mary, at her lowest point, that "it takes two to tango," and that "we all have to make choices," suggestive of an older dynamic to their friendship where this alcoholic old maid was the leader and Gerri, the follower, and now, after all these years, the happily married woman still relishes the moment where the fun-loving office gal lost her agency over the straight-laced doctor. Ever since the fallout from this problematic love affair, Mary has been living vicariously through her "friend from work"(the qualifier belongs to Gerri, whereas they were once simply friends), who as it turns out, is the lucky one. In an earlier scene, Gerri refers to her extra girth as her "middle-aged spread", in front of Mary, whose looks no longer carries any currency. The word "perfect", which Tom uses to describe his wife, is what previously had been applicable to Mary, back in the day. Gerri is nice to her, because she can afford it. Mary is such an obvious trainwreck, the mother never worries about Joe being tempted by her friend from work's feminine wiles. In another diegetic world, Gerri would have to worry, because in most films, doesn't the luck of the lonely and downtrodden change at some point? They always find love, right? If not Joe, then surely it's going to be Ken(Peter Wight), who will rescue Mary from certain spinsterhood, and live happily ever after. But alas, Tom's longtime friend is morbidly obese and greying at the top, and in Mary's eyes, no knight in shining armor. All the good older men, as suggested in a brief scene at the pub, are interested in women half their age. Mary never learned the valuable lesson that "beauty is only skin deep". She's like the character in the Nanci Griffith song "Drive-in Movies and Dashboard Lights", who is "heavy on thigh and light on integrity," who never learns that "when beauty's all you offer, too soon the world discovers that your beauty's gone."… Expand
Sep 19, 2011Laugh, Love, and Live. I always thought that those signs in people's houses were pretty corny, but I think it could describe Tom and Gerri. The movie captures nearly everything about life (birth, death, love, regret, the list goes on) in a passing of a year. The movie made me reflect on my life and the lives of others around me; and that's why the movie is universal because I think just about anyone could relate to it's characters.… Expand
Jul 2, 2011A quiet, melodrama free character study that requires patience. There are no big plot twists or cathartic moments in Another Year, just human beings struggling to make do with the hands they have been dealt in life. Skillfully directed and wonderfully acted, but also a bit of a bore.… Expand
Aug 23, 2011Another Year is simply a dreadful movie, a cinematic train wreck. You know you shouldn't keep looking but for whatever reason you simply can't look away. It was a wast of time, money and acting talent and I can't believe that some nimrod actually funded it. A gaggle of meaningless characters find each other - no surprise there in that no one else would have much to do with them - and bore each other silly with incomprehensible blather about their aforementioned meaningless lives.
There was some good acting though: Lesley Manville (Mary) emotes and emotes and emotes to the point where you want to shoot her and end her misery (and yours), misery that culminates in the "Winter" phase with her friend and National Health Service "counselor", Gerri (Ruth Sheen) quipping, "You need professional help." No, really!!! Say it isn't so. And this only took a year to verbalize! The NHS at its best.
Miss Manville's "Mary," although good, is equaled by David Bradley's "Ronnie," the recently widowed brother whose grunts and groans and staring interminably into space is not to be missed, unless, of course, you've already given up, fallen asleep or gone to the loo without bothering to press "pause."
On the positive side, Another Year did inspire me to open an account on Metacritic to warn other, unsuspecting victims to spend their time and money elsewhere, like the bowling alley or something. Seriously, it was a consummate waste of time. No plot, no conflict and no resolution: what's not to dislike?… Expand