Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another Year

Today I saw Another Year, starring Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen.

Tom (Broadbent) and Gerri (Sheen) are one of those rare couples who have spent their whole lives married and still like each other. In fact, they seem genuinely happier when in the presence of the other.

Mary (Lesley Manville) is the saddest third wheel that has ever been portrayed in film. She is the secretary at the hospital where Gerri works as a counselor, and aside from Gerri and Tom, she doesn't appear to have any friends.

The couple are good to her—perhaps the reason she clings so tightly to them—but even they have their limits when Mary makes passes at their much-younger son, then treats his new girlfriend with disrespect on her first visit to the home.

There is also Tom's troubled friend Ken (Peter Wight), who drinks, eats and smokes too much, and Tom's brother Ronnie (David Bradley), who says so little that we have to wonder if his bitter son's anger is justified.

Despite all the ranges of personalities, no one in the group is hard to watch (though the girlfriend of their son is borderline annoying). In fact, the group seems so organic you often forget your watching actors on a screen.

I love screenwriters who give such depth to their characters that we ache for their uncomfortable silences. Mike Leigh is such a writer, and Another Year is such a film.

A beautiful look at the unbalance of fairness in life that leaves you pitying the lonely ones and sympathizing with the lucky ones.


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