Another Year (2010)
Director: Mike Leigh
Writer: Mike Leigh
Notable Actors: Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen
This is the second Mike Leigh film I have seen; the first was Vera Drake. From these two films it is clear that Leigh is a director who is interested in tight, intimate dramas portrayed by some the best actors in Britain (and arguably the world). There is no clear protagonist in this film. Tom (Broadbent) and Gerri (Sheen) appear to be the centre of the story: the events occur largely in their house and to their friends and family. However, they don't really change: they have a strong, stable marriage and are generous and kind throughout. In fact they act as the ballast for everyone else's lives, particularly their friend Mary (Manville). Mary eventually emerges as the protagonist of the film, as she experiences much emotional turmoil.
The structure follows the various seasons of the year, beginning in spring and ending during winter. The seasons match the emotional state of Mary: at the film's beginning she is hopeful about the future, planning many things (though with a large dose of uncertainty in the mix). At the film's end, during winter, Mary appears to be in the grips of depression, all her previous hopefulness lost.
The whole story is very well acted, with plenty of subtext: characters rarely say what they are really thinking, allowing facial expression and tone to create tension with their words. This is a lovely film about friendship, family and aging.