Review – Another Year

Getting old is a reality we all have to face and it scares the hell out everyone with 99% of those people being members of the female population. Some say once you hit fifty you’re ‘over the hill’ while others say ‘life beings at fifty’, I tend to agree with the latter in that once we head into our twilight years we face new challenges that test our emotional maturity and force us to focus on what matters most in life; in a nutshell that’s ‘Another Year’. In ‘Another Year’ we spend a year with Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen), a happily married couple who are enjoying the back end of their lives together surrounded by family and friends who are struggling to find the happiness in their lives. ‘Another Year’ is the latest from writer/director Mike Leigh (Vera Drake & Happy-go-lucky) who is known for his character driven films that are far detached from the mainstream Hollywood system. ‘Another Year’ is a film that has a strong emotional weight and some good performances but fails because the story has no direction and a dull conclusion.

The acting in ‘Another Year’ is top notch; this is a great ensemble cast that complement each other well. Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen hold it all together as the happy couple Tom and Gerri but it’s their circle of friends that really shine. Peter Wright is fantastic as an alcoholic/manic depressant who is a heart attack waiting to happen (I was really worried for the actor because he looked like he was going to drop dead), David Bradley who is better known as ‘Filch’ from the Harry Potter films is in fine form and Lesley Manville is sublime as ‘Mary’, a woman who is struggling with growing old alone. All these performances combine to give this film a great emotional weight that breaks your heart at times while making it soar in others.

The big problem with this film is that it loses direction; we’ve got all these great characters that are left with nothing to do. Director Mike Leigh shows how the characters make it through the highs and lows of a year by breaking it up into seasons but the dots don’t connect well enough and are a little cliché, everyone is happy in summer and sad in winter. The film goes round and round in circles, the characters are great but things get a bit too boring and just when it finds its feet, it ends, it’s a big letdown after so much time is spent establishing the characters.

You have to be a hard core Mike Leigh fan to really enjoy this film and I am not one of them. The cast have held this film up and it does shed light on a part of life that is rarely covered in most films. The thing I liked most was the importance of friendship as you get older, an important lesson for all but as a film ‘Another Year’ falls short for its lack of plot and a lame conclusion.

2.5/5

The Popcorn Junkie

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