Another Year [Blu-Ray] Mike Leigh

Another Year [Blu-Ray] Mike Leigh
On the "making of" supplement and exceedingly chatty commentary track with director Mike Leigh included with the Blu-Ray of Another Year, he discusses, as do the actors, how the film is about looking back on life and reflecting on the many ups and downs as a mode of identifying one's present state of identity and outlook. Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen) are the ersatz standardized ideal of the happily married couple entering their golden years. They've built a lovely home for themselves and have raised a well-balanced and successful son, now passing their time with comfort and symbiosis, entertaining the many guests that come in and out of their lives, envious of their ease in life's trajectory. Gerri's co-worker, Mary (Lesley Manville), is the focus of this identity imbalance, stumbling into their lives four times over the course of a year, drunkenly complaining about life's shortcomings and idealizing the tiny little trinkets of hope she happens upon, such as buying a car or flirting with an indifferent man. She's single, in her 50s, owns nothing and drinks excessively in order to find a comfort in places she knows she doesn't belong. As usual, Leigh has crafted an impressive, hilarious and devastating portrait of character dynamics and class systems, with everyone fully realized and playing off each other for greater depth and complexity. Sheen plays the moral centre, polite and concerned with everyone's well being while reserving judgment for quiet talks with her far more outspoken and sarcastic husband. Manville's stuttering desperation and awkwardness are exacerbated by their social etiquettes and normalcy, creating the necessary binary for the plot to generate the intended emotional heft. It's impossible not to cringe when Manville flirts with Tom and Gerri's son, or when she asks Tom's newly widowed brother if he wants a cuddle, because we understand that while tactless and embarrassing, her neediness comes from a sad place of sincerity. And beyond these magnetic dynamics, Leigh has also crafted a film that reflects upon the nature of aging and time passing as something inevitable and unchangeable later in life, where a person's identity is merely a composite of their compounded life experiences. (Sony)