The phrase ‘national treasure’ is, inevitably, an overused one. But Mike Leigh, arguably Britain’s most consistently strong film director of the past 20 years, surely warrants the tag. His latest film, Another Year
, is one of his finest, as Leigh once more draws sensational performances from his cast. The cast features Lesley Manville, Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen, and the premise of the film follows a married couple in the later years of their lives. We meet them across the four seasons of one year, and Another Year
calmly explores the unhappiness, events and people that surround them during that time.
It’s a wonderfully understated piece of work. As is his usual approach, Leigh worked with his cast for months to shape the characters in the film, and they come through as fully three-dimensional human beings. They’re exquisitely played, too, with Broadbent and Manville rightly attracting awards attention for their work here. The hidden star of the piece, though, is Mike Leigh himself. His focused direction, and honest exploration of human lives, shines through once more. And while Another Year may not, ultimately, be one of 2010’s most upbeat movies, it’s undoubtedly one of its very best. --Jon Foster
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (2.35:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast/Crew Interview(s), Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: Class consciousness has frequently played a role in Mike Leigh's films, and not only because, as a storyteller whose native terrain is modern Britain, he can hardly hope to avoid it. And sure enough, the observant viewer of his splendidly rich and wise new feature, 'Another Year,' will notice the shadows that an always-evolving system of social hierarchy casts over the passage of the seasons. ('We're all graduates,' one character reminds another, with the prickly pride of belonging to the first generation to receive a university education in an era of expanded opportunity.) But in this movie, as in its immediate precursor, 'Happy-Go-Lucky,' Mr. Leigh is also after a more elusive and troubling form of injustice, one that is almost cosmically mysterious even as it penetrates, and sometimes threatens to poison, the relationships that make up everyday life. Like 'Happy-Go-Lucky,' though on a somewhat larger scale, 'Another Year' is about the unequal distribution of happiness. Why do some people - like Tom and Gerri, the post-'60s 60-something couple at the center of this episodic story - seem to have an inexhaustible, even superabundant supply, while others seem unable to acquire even the smallest portion? Can happiness be borrowed, stolen or inherited? Is it earned by meritorious works or granted by the obscure operations of grace? These may sound like silly, abstract questions, but they could hardly be more serious or more relevant. Here in America, after all, the pursuit of happiness has the status of a foundational right, coincident, but not quite identical, with material prosperity. In Britain, where dourness can seem...Another Year ( Untitled Mike Leigh Project )