Another Year

Rated PG-13 129 min. 2010

If the indie heartbreaker Blue Valentine is the worst-case scenario when it comes to love and marriage, then British director Mike Leigh’s rueful, tender Another Year is the best-case scenario. The film’s middle-aged London couple Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen) have carved out a wonderful life for themselves, with satisfying jobs (Gerri as a counselor and Tom as a geologist) and the love of friends and family. While Tom and Gerri gather their tomatoes and cook curries in their light-filled kitchen, their single friends suffer unbearable pangs of loneliness. Tom and Gerri’s college chum Ken (Peter Wight), who visits for the weekend, lives alone, drinks too much, smokes too much, and could stand to lose a few (20) pounds. He’s jolly and wry until the drink kicks in and he turns melancholy and angry, raging against the young with all of their privileges, furious that his day in the sun is over. But Gerri’s work colleague Mary (a fantastic Lesley Manville, who deserved an Oscar nod for her performance) has the worst of it. She’s a slim, pretty, middle-aged secretary whose eye is, unfortunately, drawn to far younger men who tend to mock and rebuff her advances. Mary is a fascinating conundrum, shrill and domineering but also bird-like and frail. Leigh has always had an expert hand with character. But he may have outdone himself with

Another Year

, whose characters and dilemmas feel more real than real, from the way Tom’s more provincial, working-class brother responds to his wife’s death to the irritated, even vicious way Mary reacts to Ken’s advances. You can’t help but love them for the simple fact of their humanity, flaws included.

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Mike Leigh

Writer: Mike Leigh

Cast: Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen, Peter Wight, Oliver Maltman, David Bradley, Karina Fernandez, Martin Savage, Michele Austin and Philip Davis

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