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Michael Winterbottom's 'Everyday' - a refreshing change
on 18 November 2012
A spoiler-free review:
I was lucky enough to get a ticket to the première of this film before it aired on Channel 4 last week, and have been hoping that it would be released on DVD. As a cinema feature it was almost overwhelming - on television, it was almost harrowingly intimate, and almost like a docudrama in feel.
As the previous reviewer noted, 'Everyday' really does benefit from having been filmed over five real years - everyone ages and whilst the most notable changes are in the children (the youngest was in nappies when filming began and at school when it finished!)the passing of time is also reflected in the two adult leads - Shirley Henderson stops looking quite so much like a teenager who could almost be an older sibling and more like a lonely and careworn mother; John Simm's hair gets greyer and his face more angular. That the four children were real-life siblings and the filming done in their own home really lends the whole thing such a natural feel that you instantly accept them as a family, and although none of the children had acted before they behave naturally with Shirley as their mum Karen. They also behave with natural shyness and wariness around John's character Ian when they go to visit him in prison (three real prisons were used in filming and many of the extras were real prisoners, the warders real prison employees)and the stilted conversation on both sides just feels so real it makes you want to cry for them all. Ian may not have a lot to say in prison, but his utter desolation as he realises that he is missing his children growing up is always there in every long-distance phone call, every too-short visit, bubbling quietly and desperately under the surface.
The Norfolk landscape is a perfect backdrop (big skies, wide open spaces) and really does emphasise the difference between Ian's constricted life behind bars and his family's. We're never told what his crime was but there is an allusion to stealing on one prison visit when it's revealed that the two boys have been in trouble for stealing sweets. The real story of this film is the effect Ian's absence has on his family and on him. As a deterrent against crime, it's a wonderfully stark warning; as a love story and a real human drama (without the histrionics, slamming doors and action sequences we see so much of)it's a heartbreaking and ultimately beautiful affirmation of family and how important it is to hold on to what you value most.
But lest you think it's all tears and sad music, let me reassure you - there is humour, real natural humour, and the children are the focus of much of this, just by being children. They will warm every mother's heart (and probably a lot of dads', too - my husband thoroughly enjoyed it, as did my teenage son!).
There has been mention made in some press reviews of the music perhaps being a little too obvious at times - for my part, I found it gently supportive and very memorable, swelling or fading, changing mood with what was happening on screen.
In short, I can't recommend this film enough - Michael Winterbottom and John Simm never disappoint so please don't miss this beautiful drama.