Pin It
Favorite

Swell Seasons 

Mike Leigh's latest film examines happiness, sadness and people who might be just like you.

click to enlarge It's time to talk.
  • It's time to talk.

As fans of Mike Leigh's films know, what you most often get is a lot of talk and very little action. And that’s fine, because the talk among his characters — all of them caught up inexorably in the thing we call life — is so intimate, interesting, fascinating, there’s no need for much to actually happen. The words are usually enough to keep you rapt.

Another Year, Leigh’s most perfectly titled film, draws us in by making us feel better about ourselves. But it’s done harshly, initially introducing us to the sad, depressed, defeated Janet (Imelda Staunton), telling her doctor all she needs is something to help her sleep. But we intuitively know she needs more than that. As do all of the unhappy people in the film.

But before meeting them, we’re treated to the opposite: the splendidly happy, longtime married couple of Tom and Gerri (Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen). They garden together, fix meals together, chat together, sit in blessed silence together. Their only incompatibility is that he drinks red wine and she drinks white. They’re loving and content, and they maintain an air of calmness.

The same cannot be said of the friends and acquaintances who visit their home. Mary (Lesley Mannville) is a secretary at Gerri’s therapist practice. She’s a naturally chatty bundle of nervous energy. But give her a glass (or four) of wine and she opens up, launching into a litany of everything that’s gone wrong: a divorce, a bad affair with a married man, lack of money, loneliness.

Then there’s big, fat, beer- and wine-swilling, cigarette-smoking Ken (Peter Wight), an old pal of Tom. He’s directionless, tired of working, tired of being alone, sad that his youth is long gone.

Thank goodness that Tom and Gerri also get visits from their son, Joe (Oliver Maltman), a relaxed, easygoing fellow who one day surprises them with a cheery new girlfriend, Katie (Karina Fernandez).

But moods constantly shift in Mike Leigh land. Late in the film, there’s a visit to Tom’s shattered, lost-looking brother Ronnie (David Bradley, best known as creepy Argus Filch in the Harry Potter films), who has just lost his wife and whose vocabulary consists mostly of the word “yeah.”

The film turns into a study in contrasts between the happy folks and the sad folks and what happens when they cross paths via Tom and Gerri. It’s all played out in chapters: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. It’s a small, slice-of-life movie that wisely suggests that we slow down, look around, take things as they come, and deal with them. There’s never, at any time of the year, room for self-pity.

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Film

  • Closing the Book
  • Closing the Book

    Peter Jackson bids farewell to his hobbits with one last, great movie
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • The One Who Knocks
  • The One Who Knocks

    Why an Australian indie called The Babadook became one of 2014's creepiest films
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Let My People Go Big
  • Let My People Go Big

    Exodus: Gods and Kings fails when it tries to humanize its spectacle
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Spokane Symphony SuperPops No. 3

Spokane Symphony SuperPops No. 3 @ Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox

Sun., Dec. 21, 2-4 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Ed Symkus

  • Closing the Book
  • Closing the Book

    Peter Jackson bids farewell to his hobbits with one last, great movie
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Stranger Than Fiction
  • Stranger Than Fiction

    Jon Stewart tries his hand at directing with the true story Rosewater
    • Nov 12, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Fresh Spin

    A local record shop is reincarnated under a new owner, giving this generation a taste of vinyl
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Film


Review


© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation