Another Year – Review
November 8, 2010 2 Comments
Another Year (7/10)
Directed by Mike Leigh. Starring Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen
If you are familiar with Mike Leigh’s body of works, you’ll be familiar with the themes and the setting of this film. In fact, for the first few minutes you might even be thinking “Oh dear… Another Year, another Mike’s Leigh’s movie”. Then slowly this becomes something that somehow stays with you, especially, I suppose, if you are a slightly older person than I am. This is not only a film about relationships, but it’s a film about growing old and what relationship mean to a person who’s growing old. You’ve got the old happy perfect couple on one side of the spectrum, the old man who starts his day and ends his day by drinking a can of beer (and obviously has many of them in between), the ageing 40 something woman, who suffers from depression and her to drinks herself to the point of embarrassing herself all the time, you’ve got the recently widowed man whose life seems to have stop making sense since the death of the wife. Anyway, in other words, this isn’t a happy depiction of life: it is after all a Mike’s Leigh’s film. It’s a film about real life, about little moments, silences, gestures, little things. There are so big resolutions, no big twists, not a lot of character development, because after all in life we don’t really change much and the biggest twist one may have in his life over the course of one year, is that his or her car might have broken down.
A lot has been made about how Mike Leigh like to shoot his films (rehearsing for 6 months with the actors, letting them improvise and basically writing down the script as he goes along). In this one he ended up dividing his film into 4 season and he gave each of them a different look and feel. Well, to be honest, there’s absolutely nothing new or original in that: summer looks shining and warm, winter is obviously grey, foggy and with muted colours, perfectly in keeping with the last chapter which is mainly about death.
The film is pretty slow and yet quite mesmerizing. The wonderful performances have a lot to do with the success of this film and I wouldn’t be surprise if I ended up seeing some of those names getting some sort of nominations at the BAFTA… You know those Brits, are so patriotic…
However I did find some of the dialogue a bit fake and forced (especially the scenes at the dinner table with the new girlfriend). Everybody is always waiting for somebody else to finish their sentence before speaking again during the busiest dialogue scenes. On the other hand, during the slower and more quiet scenes silences and awkward moments are stretched a bit too far. It didn’t quite feel right to me.
At the end of the day I couldn’t really help feeling that the film is a bit too indulgent in a few places and some of those scenes could have been trimmed a lot more in the editing (I suppose, that’s the danger of filming sequences in one very long take: there’s probably not a lot of coverage to shorten things with).
Critics have loved it, of course, and I can see why. This is the kind of film that stays with you… But really, in a few years time will we go back to “Another Year” and watch it again? I don’t think so.