Give it a try if…You think there are great treasures waiting to be found in everyday life.
Steer clear if… You hate movies in which people mostly talk instead of flying around in spandex costumes.
British director Mike Leigh rocked my world with “Secrets and Lies”, fifteen years ago; I confess I have missed most of his work since then, almost afraid of spoiling that memory, but a bunch of great reviews convinced me to watch his latest movie, “Another Year”.
Everything Changes… Or Doesn’t It
The Oscar-nominated script follows a group of characters revolving around Tom and Gerri, a harmonious middle-aged couple. Among them are their friend Ken, overweight and depressed; their son Joe, a lawyer in his early thirties who has not found his soulmate yet; and especially Gerri’s co-worker Mary, who has been clinging to the bottle after her bitter divorce. The story develops in the course of one year – yet “another year” in which many things will change, while basically staying the same.
Time to Reap
The focus is mostly on middle age: a time when men and women tend to reap what they’ve sown, in the form of peaceful contentment or harsh dissatisfaction. This is how people like Tom and Gerri live in some sort of dynamic balance, open to exchange between themselves and with the outside world – while Mary, Ken and others, having cut off that energy flow, are consistently looking for a shoulder to cry on, yet at the same time unable of real contact.
A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose
I was delighted and moved by this well-acted movie, from beginning to end. It is clearly not based on action, but on dialogues – mainly everyday, seemingly insignificant interactions which obliquely reveal a lot about the characters. This is part of Leigh’s “fenomenological” view: everything is what it is, and by watching it exist without any form of judgement we can grasp its true nature.
A Moralistic Tale?
That is why I do not see this as a moralistic tale – “Get a partner and be nice before it’s too late!” – but rather as an ultra-realistic snapshot of the continuum between self-centredness and openness, acceptance and denial, holding on and letting go. A welcome chance to laugh, cry and wonder at the complexity of our glorious and miserable species. Thanks, Mike.
UPS score (Utmost Perfection Scale): 8/10 + wow!