“Another Year” is not an easy film to watch. Personally, I was very uncomfortable watching it. If you think you only went to movies for an entertainment escapades and can’t stomach a thick dose of drama, or prone to fell asleep during movies, then don’t watch this film. However, this film was a great study in characters, with beautiful performances and one of the most touching and heartfelt drama that I’ve ever seen for a while. You call yourself a movie buff, with an inclination toward serious drama? I see no legitimate reason for you to skip this film.
The film centered around Tom and Gerri, a comfortable elderly couple surrounded by a small circle of people including their thirty year old bachelor of a son, Joe, and their friends and colleagues. The film follows what happens over the course of four seasons in, one average year to the characters around Tom and Gerri.
The length of the film features very ordinary characters, ones that you and I could and would meet in our daily lives. At first, it was unsettling and obviously requires time to get used to but once you get to know these characters, and Mike Leigh had make sure that the story flows without pushing names under our throat, the characters would started to take a shape and quite probably matures into ones that you could identify with.
The four seasons represented in this film aptly describes what the stages of the story would be. Spring would be the blossoming of characters, summer would be pleasant, and autumn would give the waning of some characters and probably, a beginning to an end to some relationships described in this film. Winter is obviously my favorite segment. It was cold, uneasy, and devastating as the camera, on its final shot stares into the wounded Mary and I was forcibly, reminded to someone I knew. Attractive, not getting any younger, holding off from any relationships for the dream of a knight in a shining armor, and eventually crash landing on a hard plain called reality. It was devastating just to see her. And more so because we’ve known her since spring, we’ve got a hint of her wanting in summer, or how she tries to hides her fears, masking it with an excuse of “independence” in autumn, and that hard to watch scene in winter when she knocks feebly at the Tom and Gerri’s house.
Mary, as portrayed by Lesley Manville is definitely the most interesting character of this film. We’ve all known her, some way or the other, in our life. One that we also probably greet with words such as “it’s a shame,” or awkward embrace accompanied by “you should’ve called” as was the case with her in this film. She has a complete arc in the story. We soaked with her cheerfulness, sympathized with her awkwardness, probably regretted her short-sighted judgements, and perhaps finally, breaking at the sight of her devastation. She, and Lesley Manville that portrays her, was that good. A wounded, pathetic character but also very real, because she never had an over dramatization treatment from the film.
One might considers this film as a comedy. In a sense, probably. But really, I found no laughter in this film. Awkward laughter, yes, and quite often at that, but that’s an entirely different laughter. I’d like to think this film is more of a tragedy. There’s a scene at the Winter segment that has nothing to do with the whole story, but aptly sets the mood for the rest of the segment (and the rest of the film) and turns it into a tragedy. No fret, nobody gets killed, or even hurt physically. But still, I call it a tragedy.
On a personal note, I found myself attached to this film because had I not met the woman who is now my wife, I could see myself ended up in Mary’s shoes. Which is why, during the final scene of this film, rather than basking in the perceived happiness of one perfect family, I was firmly sided with the outsiders sat on that the. Strangers, mind elsewhere, looking in, with perhaps, a small hint of hate toward the perceived perfection emanates from the host and their perfect, happy life.
My rating: ***1/2 / **** – Not an easy film to watch but ultimately a rewarding experience and shows how a drama should be made and of course, as I’ve so many freaking times had made a case, showcased the above average performances of British thespians. Any British thespians.