Tom and Gerri are a happily married couple, Another Year goes through all four seasons to see the relationships they have with family and friends and all of the issues that comes with life in general.
Over the course of the year we follow the lives of Tom and Gerri who are happy enough and must deal with different friends and family who are struggling at different points and stages. Mary a middle aged divorcee is seeking a new relationship and despite telling everyone that she is happy she is actually very desperate and depressed turning to drink in order to deal with her existence.
Joe is Tom and Gerri’s 30 year old son who is unmarried and works as a solicitor, not really wanting to seek out a relationship even though everyone tries to encourage him to do this. We then see Ken who is overweight, smokes and drinks too much and is again very unhappy. The awkwardness of Mary flirting with Joe considering he actually refers to her as Auntie really highlights the level of unhappiness she is feeling, just wanting attention from pretty much anyone regardless of how inappropriate it actually is! We then move to the funeral of Tom’s brother Ronnie’s wife and his estranged son Carl turning up and causing utter chaos, especially after he misses the ceremony.
Mike Leigh is a tremendous writer/director and manages to really capture what life is like in Britain over different time periods. In Another Year he highlights how difficult it can be to main relationships with family and friends when you don’t agree with the decisions that they make. It just shows that if someone is that unhappy and depressed you might not be able to actually help them, but being around and just there could make a massive difference.
Different scenes within the film are truly heartbreaking because of how real everything feels, I am sure we will all go through or know someone who goes through these different stages at some point in our lives. While the film does not actually offer anything in terms of being able to stop those feelings, it does indeed highlight that you can still be a presence which could mean everything. This actually makes it a rather intense and important journey, never deny someone your time when they need it the most.
Lesley Manville is utterly outstanding and is too much to handle at times, but the vulnerable and messed up nature of her character means that you also feel so sorry for her. The performance is so pure and she deserves so much credit for it! Being able to make you feel a dislike towards a character one second and then in the next second to actually pity them is certainly a way to highlight a brilliant performance. Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen work very well together and bounce off the other characters in a good manner as well. Imelda Staunton’s small role in the opening scene was rather powerful as well, I was seriously expecting her character to then be present throughout!