On Blu-ray and DVD
“Another Year,” written and directed by Mike Leigh, 130 minutes, rated PG-13.
Lesley Manville’s character Mary says it best: “Everybody needs somebody to talk to.”
In British filmmaker Mike Leigh’s latest, “Another Year,” Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen play the ironically-named Tom and Gerri, a couple that gets along perfectly well in life, their relationship and gardening. They’re the rock in the lives of their family and friends, always there to help, offer advice or just listen. It’s no wonder then, that Tom is a geologist (the rock thing, again) and Gerri is a counselor.
“Another Year” takes us through a year in the life of Tom and Gerri, grabbing key moments from each season.
Spring brings Gerri’s friend and co-worker, Mary, who has become an aging, babbling emotional train-wreck. She believes buying a car might solve all of her problems – which are numerous. She’s been through a rough divorce that left her with nothing, invested herself in a failed relationship with a married man, and now has an eye for a much younger guy – Tom and Gerri’s son, Joe (Oliver Maltman).
Summer belongs to Ken (Peter Wright), one of Tom’s best friends, who’s also trying to cope with getting older. Having lost his confidence, he has become severely overweight and is unlucky in love. Talking about it brings him to the point of weeping in front of Tom and Gerri.
Fall offers a surprise from Joe (happy for some, sad for one), while winter begins with a death in the family. Through it all, however, Tom and Gerri maintain their composure.
There’s something magnetic about the script, as the conversations draw you in and get you closer to each character. “Another Year” never gets bogged down by its dialogue because it’s so well-written. Instead, you just become submerged in the communication.
Because of that, however, “Another Year” works strictly as a character study. It’s what Leigh does best. He knows people, and he writes the seemingly ordinary brilliantly. The film’s form is more akin to that of a stage production, and somehow manages to make 130 minutes seem fleeting. No easy feat.
Who knew that weaving together a string of conversations and gatherings over the course of a year could be so quickly paced?
You would think that after years of having the woes of others dumped on them, Tom and Gerri would begin to crack. Skeptics might argue that there is interior damage hidden somewhere in their relationship, because it seems too good to be true. I just think they have it all figured out. And what’s wrong with that?