Nothing like those kitchen-sink conversations.
Over the course of a tumultuous year, contented medical counselor Gerri (Ruth Sheen) and her geologist husband, Tom (Jim Broadbent), see their friends and relations through a series of happy events and heartbreaks — including a birth and a death.
Writer-director Mike Leigh is known for working with his actors way long before shooting even starts to get that type of realistic feel for his films and to be honest, damn does it work.
The one thing that Leigh does perfectly here is that he makes these conversations feel so real as if we were to just eavesdrop on actual people talking and not just people reading a script. It wasn’t what these people talked about it’s just how they talked and how everything that had to do with the conversation was rapid and constant, kind of like real-life and you almost never get that in any film.
The screenplay also has a lot of warmth with it as you can feel that everyone’s happy to be with one another and all friends but there’s also a deep sense of sadness and misery here too that I think goes unnoticed a lot too.
There are moments here where scenes will become a little awkward but then soon turn into sad as we realize that even though you may be happy, the others around you may not be as jolly as you are at the moment. Actually sometimes, people will go into deeper and deeper states of loneliness just to spite the others around them. For every warm-heartening and funny scenes there is an equally sad and depressing scene that will show great balance this story has.
Although I did have a problem with Leigh’s direction because although I think he handles this script perfectly, there’s no real main focus on this story. I kept wondering the whole time who this story was about because it goes around the family as to who the main point and plot is all about until I found out at the end. I didn’t mind the ending, I actually thought it was very effective, but I didn’t quite know who Leigh was trying to get us to focus on.
Another problem that others may have with this film is that nothing really happens here other than just a bunch of conversations which may annoy some people looking for a better use of plot. There’s no direct point of conflict or suspense just a bunch of peeps talking and if you like that, then this a film for you.
The performances here from this cast are great as well. Jim Broadbent is just totally funny and charming, as the cool daddy Tom and Ruth Sheen has a great deal of likability to her character as well as believability as his wife, Gerri. Tom and Gerri (Gettt itttt?) both seem like an awesome couple that has loved each other all throughout these years, and no matter have somehow remained to stay happy as well which seems hard with all these depressing people coming to their house all the time.
But above all there’s Lesley Manville — a Leigh regular — who plays a co-worker of Gerri’s and slowly becomes the heart of the film. She’s a mess, kindly indulged by Gerri and Tom. She’s painfully eager in conversation, awkwardly attracted to their son and just desperate, really. Almost every scene she has, she controls and just by looking at the expressions on her face, you know something is bothering her right from the get-go and even though she may be bringing this on to herself, you still can’t help but feel remotely sad for her.
Consensus: Not much happens here in Another Year, but Leigh’s well-written script makes the whole film seem like real-life actually happening in front of your eyes, and the performances add so much more to these characters and make them more vivid than we could have imagined.