Mike Leigh has built his career on improvising his movies with the various actors he work has worked with over the years. Taking a couple of months and only an initial idea and transforming it into a full movie with the help of the actors he employs. After riding the modest success of his last movie ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’ (2008) is ‘Another Year’ up to scratch on the edgy creativity Leigh’s known for?
Like everybody, Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Jim Broadbent) are getting old. However whilst their happiness lies in each other it appears everyone around them is finding it much more difficult to find that special someone. As the spring turns to summer and so on, Tom and Gerri have various dinner dates with characters such as Mary (Lesley Manville) a dysfunctional co-worker of Gerri’s who likes to drink more then someone should, whilst on Tom’s side he battles to keep high spirits with his friend Ken (Peter Wight) who wants to find solace in Mary. The movie chronicles the year from Tom and Gerri’s point of view as characters as the year goes by and characters come and go in through their little world.
One of the main problems with the movie is that it runs on much longer then it should. Whilst characters such as Tom and Gerri are fun and interesting in their old age, most of the other characters just nag on and draw out the film. Characters such as Marry (who is very similar to Blanche from ‘A Street Car Names Desire’) keeps popping up uninvitingly as we begin to see her slipping from normality in such a way that when she is at the front door even audiences don’t want her around. Then there’s Ken, a pathetic booze guzzling chain-smoker who recalls when he was young before breaking down into tears. But their son Joe (Oliver Maltman) hasn’t got it any easier as he tries to find someone he wants to settle down with.
The movie ambles along each season with little point other then to draw the movie out into four separate sections as characters promises are lost through the different times. Leigh has definitely hit the same style Yasujiro Ozu in which the film centres around a character (or characters in Leigh’s case) and we see their friends and family around them as they effect the story however missing the historical importance which Ozu is know for. Whilst it appears that nothing is happening under neither it all you have love, loss, alcoholism, shattered dreams and bitter disappointment.
Whilst ‘Another Year’ won’t be to everyone’s taste, some may find a heart warming story about getting old. Others will see it as nothing more then old people talking about getting old. If you enjoy works by the elderly director then you will be pleasantly satisfied however apart from it having a lot of heart it ends up feeling somewhat boring and repetitive.
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