I walked out of the screening of Another Year with a quote from Eddie Izzard’s stand-up routine “Dresses to Kill” in my head. I know it’s an odd comment but bear with me for a second. Izzard said during his routine: “…kind of ‘a room with a view with a staircase and a pond’-type movies. Films with very fine acting, but the drama is rather sort of subsued and – subsumed … You know, just folded in and everything’s people opening doors. ‘Oh, I’m – oh, what? Well, I’ve – oh.’ ‘What is it, Sebastian? I’m arranging matches.’ ‘Well, I – I thought you – … I’d better go.’ ‘Yes, I think you’d better had.’”
This is very much that kind of an English film, but this one is at its best, where the strong subtleties of the characters are so well done that they can compete with the explosions of American cinema…
- Director: Mike Leigh
- Writer: Mike Leigh
- Actors: Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Lesley Manville
- Original Music by: Gary Yershon
- Cinematography by: Dick Pope
Another Year is the story of a married couple who have managed to remain blissfully happy into their autumn years. Over the course of four seasons they are are surrounded by friends, colleagues, and family who all seem to suffer some degree of unhappiness
- The Acting: So subtle. So clear. So specific. So great for the reasons below…
- The Script: So natural and realistic it FELT like we were a part of the characters lives. We could laugh with them, know what they were thinking without them having to speak, and see their pain without any tears/words.
- The Character Development: Every character introduced we leave the film feeling like they’re a family member we’ve known our entire lives. They managed to find those key moments in life that tell us the deepest darkest secrets about those around them and then play with the ideas and when needed, leave them behind.
- The Subtly: When things are so well written, so well acted, and so well presented, you don’t need much to go a long way. They had the cards stacked in their favor and were able to take advantage of it by allowing things to just wash over you instead of forcing things on you. Which leads us to…
- The Confidence in the Acting: I love it when the performances are so strong and the director so trusting that he can just allow the audience to simply look at the actors without trying to manipulate the viewers with a directors-bag-o-tricks. Without any music, dialogue or manipulative tools, Leigh allows us to simply look at the characters on the screen and let us sit with them and understand them.
- The Bold Choice of Nothing: Many times in the film Leigh makes the bold choice to do nothing and just let the actors feel out the scene. It’s a risk because often times this could be considered boring, but because he sets up the scenes so well, the pauses actually help to build the tension and once again tell the story extremely well.
The Bad (which isn’t so bad):
- Not for Everyone: This is not the easiest film to watch for the main stream audience, but it’s extremely well made for people who know how to sit down to a film that will slowly unfold and then sneak under their skin.
If you’re like me and have been dying for some great performances in a solid film, this is a great pick.
Another Year in theaters December 31, 2010!
Will you go to see the film?