The film Another Year rolls out like a theatrical play or good book that’s a swift page-turner. From the opening character introductions throughout writer/director Mike Leigh’s ‘seasons’, we are treated to blossoming relationships, seeds of life, uncertainty, and a dieing effort. Amazing acting, direction and fascinating storyline make Another Year a great choice for the mature adult.
Tom (Broadbent) and Geri (Ruth Sheen) make a lovely couple bordering on their golden years living the happy middleclass life with their thirty-year-old unmarried son Joe (Oliver Maltman). Geri’s co-worker and office friend Mary (Manville), a recent divorcee, have a drink or two after work once a week. On one occasion Geri invites Mary to her home for a Bar-B-Q in an attempt to set her up with Tom’s best friend Ken (Peter Wight). Totally caught off guard, Mary rebukes Ken’s approach. Geri, not wanting to make Mary feel that she wronged her with the introduction, inadvertently forms a closer bond of friendship. With this an unwitting year of ups and downs begins.
The character Mary, portrayed with an astonishing performance by Lesley Manville, is the main reason for seeing Another Year. Her role, a bothersome chatty woman torn by her past and grasping at straws to avoid a future of loneliness provides the crux of the film and she nails it. During the course of the year we see her change with each humiliating attempt to grasp friendship and love using booze as strength to fulfill her fantasies.
Another Year has a terrific support cast in Broadbent, Sheen and Oliver Maltman who work together interacting their characters with Mary as she moves deeper into the abyss of her decaying life. Meaning well, but unable to save Mary from uncertainty, the strong impassable characters portrayed are really the reason for her downward spiral.
The film is rated PG-13 for some language. It contains some adult humor and a lot of alcohol use.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good story with magnetic performances. (B+)
Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 11 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at firstname.lastname@example.org