Skip to content

April 16, 2012

3

Another Year

by Franz Patrick


Another Year (2010)
★★★★ / ★★★★

Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen) were a happy couple surrounded by unhappy friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers. Tom was a geologist and Gerri was a counselor at a hospital. Both enjoyed tending their garden on their spare time. Mary (Lesley Manville) always felt welcome in Gerri and Tom’s home. She was free to talk about herself as much as she wanted: How her life would be so much better if she had a car, her regret over failed relationships, and her dependence on alcohol when things didn’t go her way. To say the least, she had a lot of issues. But, in a course of a year, things changed. Mary began to show a romantic interest in Tom and Gerri’s thirty-year-old son named Joe (Oliver Maltman). When, to everyone’s surprise, he brought home a girlfriend (Karina Fernandez), Mary was less than welcoming. In fact, she was downright cold and dismissive. Suddenly there was a gaping chasm between Gerri and Mary. Written and directed by Mike Leigh, “Another Year” was full of people you and I know. I have friends who are just like Mary: somewhat self-centered but fun because of her firecracker of a personality. But then there were times when I felt like I was Mary. I could identify in the way she hid her sadness by pretending to be excited about everything. But what I loved was the director and the actress were careful in painting Mary’s character. They didn’t necessarily want us to feel sorry for her because she actively didn’t take responsibility for her actions. A crutch always seemed to be at her disposal. However, Leigh and Manville did want us to understand where she was coming from and perhaps even imagine ourselves in her shoes. Sheen also gave an excellent performance. What I loved most about her were her eye bags. I don’t mean to sound glib. To me, her eye bags symbolized wisdom and experience. I was fascinated in the way she was always supportive but at the same time she wasn’t afraid to let someone know when he or she had overstepped certain boundaries. Certain looks she gave were memorable because they were the same looks my mom gave me to express her disappointment when I had done something unpleasant back when I was younger. I relished the relationship between the two women, who happened to be good friends for about twenty years, and the awkwardness during and after the unpleasant dinner. Everyone knows the feeling of being caught in between two good friends having a row. We got to experience that in here and the answers were rarely easy. While watching “Another Year,” its story told in four seasons each embodying a different mood and tone, I caught myself inching toward the screen. I literally felt close to them. I wanted to read their smallest facial expressions and most subtle body movements. I found it compelling that Leigh posed big, elegant questions by focusing on a small regular family.

About these ads
3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 16 2012

    Franz,

    you already know how much I love this movie, and it of course pleases me that we agree on its quality. I also appreciated that you focused on Manville’s character, one I sort of played down in my short write-up on the movie for my Top Ten of 2011 list. She really is a complex character, and one that as you say, you can relate to even if you don’t always want to. And I just loved the chemistry between Sheen and Broadbent.

    Reply
    • Apr 20 2012

      Yeah, I found Manville’s character so interesting because I feel like it’s almost too easy to dislike her. Also, I wish Ruth Sheen would be in more things. She’s just so lovely to watch.

      Reply
      • Apr 20 2012

        Franz,

        She is, definitely. I’m shamefully behind on Mike Leigh’s filmography (I think the only other films of his I’ve seen are ‘Career Girls’ and ‘Vera Drake’,) but apparently, she’s been in several of his films. Like you, I also love her face. It’s so refreshing to see someone so normal, if you know what I mean. Now I need to rewatch this film.

        Reply

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 920 other followers