Saturday, 21 May 2011

Another Year

They don't roll around very often, but Mike Leigh's films are usually well worth catching, so we were quite keen to finally snag his latest, Another Year. Framed by seasonal chapters as the events of a single ("another") year, the film is centred around a comfortable and happy middle-aged couple, played by Ruth Sheen and Jim Broadbent, around whom a bustle of family and friends congregate. The film's drama can largely be summarised as the contrast between this stable, central pair, and the generally lonely, desperate or miserable lives of those around them. The portrayals of these orbiting characters does make the film a bit difficult to watch at times, especially given how well-observed the details of their lives are. I think most people will recognise aspects of themselves or their friends in the characters or situations, and Leigh is quite unsparing in letting the viewer marinate in the misery. So while it's difficult to watch the film at times, it's also difficult not to admire the craft that's gone into it. Particularly the actors, who uniformly inhabit their characters flawlessly. And in painting a portrait of middle-aged isolation, Leigh makes us reflect on how this chapter of life can be poorly served by modern society. I'm glad I've got that to look forwards to!

Grade: B (+2 on the Leeper Scale)

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