Another Year Movie Review

Another Year Movie Review


Director Mike Leigh’s lovely new movie, “Another Year,” a British drama, is impressive in its illustration of all sorts of matters of age, family, class, economics, friendship and national origin.

Lesley Manville, plays Mary, a fragile medical secretary. She works for Gerri, a pleasant psychiatrist, played by Ruth Sheen. Gerri often invites Mary to dinner at her home in the suburbs of London. Jim Broadbent plays Tom, Gerri’s husband. He’s a geologist and is slightly condescending to Mary, although he always treats her kindly.

Mary enjoys her wine, and although she feels very comfortable with Tom and Gerri, she doesn’t quite fit in with them or their handsome 30 year old son Joe, played by Oliver Maltman. However, it doesn’t seem to bother her that the couple treats her as a ditzy younger sister. Mary says that as she gets older her chances of meeting a man are getting smaller and smaller. She says: "When they find out I'm not as young as I look, they don't want to know." The truth is that the men really just don’t want to date her.

When Mary spends a little too much time hugging Joe and asks too many questions about him, it becomes apparent that she’s confusing his friendliness with flirting.

In this new movie release Leigh is clear and honest and yet somehow manages to make regular behavior seem fascinating. He notes how people who are ordinarily verbally blessed push away unpleasant situations with the use of cliché. He notes how laughter often covers nervousness or how people just laugh to fit in. The actors in this movie picture, particularly Lesley Manville, are excellent.

Even though this is a thoroughly British film, it may make more of an impression in America than in Britain. The difference between a British professional couple socializing with a lower middle class drinker and an American couple of the same standing doing the same thing are vast. In America, psychiatrists are very well off and would look down on socializing with someone like Mary. In Britain a psychiatrist, working in national medicine, is just another civil servant.

In this one of this year’s upcoming movies, everyone is somehow dependent upon the government in some way. Tom looks for foundations to support public projects and Tom’s older brother, Ronnie, is living on the dole. After over half a century of socialism in Britain, thinking big is left to the Americans. Ronnie loves football and beer and, as Tom says, is “free from the tyranny of regular employment.”

Leigh never actually discusses economic questions. His characters are fascinating and the dialogue is completely believable. Go see “Another Year.”


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