Another Year (Blu-ray)
When looking at the Academy Awards, I have always thought the Best Screenplay categories of Adapted or Original contained the most quality films. Usually there are one or two little gems in there that don’t receive love from other categories. Such is the case with ANOTHER YEAR. Nominated for Best Original Screenplay, the film spans across four seasons focusing on an old loving couple and how they interact with family and friends.
Tom and Gerri (cute isn’t it?) played to perfection by Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen are everything you believe marriage should be. They love each other deeply, are best friends and can handle just about every situation as in sync as a professional team that are only as good as they are from years of experience and love. They spend their free time from their jobs together working meticulously in their garden or entertaining dinner guests. They have a single, thirty-year-old son named Joe (Oliver Maltman) who visits from time to time. Like his parents he has a quick-witted sense of humor and an overall good-natured personality.
Gerri works with Mary (Lesley Manville) an aging single lady who has known the family since Joe was a little a boy. Self involved and lonely, Mary keeps a glass of wine in her hand and an upbeat attitude to mask her obvious depression. She is desperate to find a mate but would never admit such a thing. Tom’s old friend Ken (Peter Wight) has turned to food and alcohol to fill his time as a lonely older man approaching retirement. Winter brings on an unexpected death of the wife of Tom’s brother Ronnie (David Bradley). Quiet and helpless, he is introduced to us as a man not as accustomed to the wonderful support given by Tom and Gerri. These are a few of the unhappy people that come in and out of Tom and Gerri’s life.
ANOTHER YEAR is about people and the simple everyday ongoings of what happens in one’s life over a year. There is no driving action other than time. It may seem mundane but these are real people and real situations. Sure we may hear about a death, a relationship or the purchase of a new car but more importantly the film follows the interactions as these events pass.
All the scenes are simple taking place mostly inside Tom and Gerri’s home or perhaps their backyard. However, the art direction and set design team have done a wonderful job creating the feel of spring, summer, fall and finally winter as the seasons change throughout the film. Simple costuming or a change in color goes a long way to create an effective atmosphere. Writer and director Mike Leigh (HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, VERA DRAKE, TOPSY TURVY) loves character pieces and understands the importance of actors to bring out his vision. Everyone’s performance is excellently played and Leigh has created another subtle film about people.
Tom and Gerri’s relationship is believable and inspiring. I couldn’t help hoping to share the same relationship with my wife after so many years of marriage. Yes, they may have a slight annoyance with one another from time to time but how quickly that is overcome by love is also desirable. ANOTHER YEAR isn’t some revelation of material but it is peaceful and understanding about its characters. It’s a solid little film that I believe can be an example about how to be kind and understanding.
Video: (1080p High Definition 2.35:1) The picture is great capturing every season even when inside.
Audio: (5.1 DTS-HD MA) The sound is clear for this dialogue driven film.
Commentary with Director Mike Leigh and Actress Lesley Manville: Manville only speaks briefly but Leigh gives a very clear and distinct commentary about his ideas and reasoning. This is very informative about the acting and emotion he was trying to achieve.
The Making of Another Year (12:29): Interviews with the cast and crew talking about their character, the film and the process
The Mike Leigh Method (11:48): Everyone talks about working with Leigh and how he is believes the actor to be a collaborator in discovering the film.