Another Year review

Over the years Mike Leigh has built up a body of work with similar, familial themes so in that sense his latest feature is nothing new. As ever, some of the characters are seemingly ludicrous but at the same time clearly based firmly in reality and will doubtless prove to be memorable additions to his already impressive canon. That this is identifiably Leigh's work but again is fresh and entertaining is testament to this true British legend's original talent.

Tom (Broadbent) and Gerri (Sheen) are the very picture of marital bliss and have bright and living son, Joe (Maltman). Orbiting this warm hub are satellites of sadness - Gerri's colleague Mary (Manville) and Ken (Wight), an old friend of Tom. Both are middle-aged, lonely and drink too much. Through various family gatherings and across the four seasons, we see Leigh's creations living out their lives, revealing their personalities little by little.

As ever, the exquisitely drawn characters are at the heart of what makes Mike Leigh's films such a treat. From this comes believable and often hilarious dialogue, expertly delivered by some of Britain's finest acting talent. Jim Broadbent seems barely to be acting at all which is perhaps the greatest compliment of all, and he's given great support by Ruth Sheen. Both the funniest and saddest character is Mary, whose neuroses are memorably brought to life by Lesley Manville. It's a terrific if showy performance and one that is simultaneously wonderful and heartbreaking to witness, eliciting sympathy and horror in equal measure.

Acutely observed, this slice of middle-class life is small in scope but big on emotion, and amongst the angst scores high on the laughometer. Another Year is a typically bittersweet watch and typically brilliant film from Mike Leigh.

Official Site
Another Year at IMDb

Justin Bateman is a Screenjabber contributor

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