Another Year (Mike Leigh, 2010)

What's it about? Over the course of a year, we follow the ordinary lives of happily-married, middle-aged couple Tom and Gerri (Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen) and their various friends and relatives, who are not all as happy or fulfilled as they are.

Is it any good? Another year, another slice-of-life piece of drama from Mike Leigh. Thing is, he does this sort of thing rather well and, despite the mundane ordinariness of the lives depicted, we are slowly drawn into the world of the characters, helped by the superb acting which encourages us to empathise and sympathise with them. In the end, I quite liked it. On the other hand, it's easy to appreciate that watching middle-aged people talk for two hours might not be everyone's afternoon cup of tea and why it has been variously described as soap-opera for the upper middle class and as British 'actorwank'. 

I don't trust you. What do others think? Favourably received by most critics, with the audiences who did seek it out slightly less impressed. However, perhaps the most interesting debate lies in the differing views that developed about the central pairing of Tom and Gerri. Some considered the couple as a lovely portrait of happily married life, growing contentedly old together. Others took the more cynical (but equally valid) viewpoint that they had surrounded themselves with less fortunate and more troubled friends so they could feel more smug and self-satisfied about their own lives. It's a testament to the actors and script that either (or both) options is entirely possible.

What does the Fonz think? That's life, that's what Mike Leigh says, ridin' high in April, shot down in May.....

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