2010’s most emotionally poignant films, Another Year is an often
awkwardly-funny depiction of needy, miserable people trying to make
sense of their lives. Making its way to Blu-ray via Icon entertainment,
the disc is unfortunately devoid of special features, but the film
itself is a must-see.
centre of Another Year is a happy, middle-aged couple. Tom and
Gerri (get it?) are played with easy contentment by Jim Broadbent and
Ruth Sheen. Into their blissful domestic lives comes Gerri’s work
college, Mary (Lesley Manville), a talky, unhappy woman who
jibber-jabbers about nonsense in a desperate attempt to cover up her own
insecurities. It’s obvious to both Tom, and especially Gerri – who works
as a psychologist – that Mary is troubled, but even when she drinks too
much and overstays her welcome, they’re too nice to say anything about
title implies, the film takes place over a year, with helpful
title-cards delineating each season. In summer, another friend arrives
to leech Tom and Gerri’s positive energy. He’s Ken (Peter Wight), a
bitter old friend of Tom’s who laments that his favourite pubs have been
commandeering by a new generation. Eventually, come winter, the family
visits Tom’s monotone, grieving brother, Ronnie (David Bradely), whose
wife has just recently passed away.
Leigh’s unconventional shooting method is well documented. (Instead of
beginning with a script, he begins with a thinly sketched outline, gets
his actors together to craft character backstories, then improvises
until the script comes into form.) The nuance that results is manifest
in how effective – and affecting – the movie is. Broadbent and Sheen are
perfectly pitched as the relaxed couple who always know the right thing
to say, but nonetheless seem to be quietly judging those around them.
Manville is the standout, however, in the showier role as the damaged
Mary, and her character impressively moves from being grating to
ultimately very sad and sympathetic. The scenes where Mary flirts with
Tom and Gerri’s son, Joe (Oliver Maltman), especially, are masterclasses
in social inappropriateness. That’s ultimately the greatest strength of
the movie: it captures the nuance, joy, pauses and awkwardness of
everyday conversation and existence. Devoid of artifice and elegantly
constrained, Another Year is a little gem.
Audio & Video
high-def transfer is colourful, crisp and blemish free, and is presented
in 1080p in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. There are two English
audio tracks, one DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the other Dolby TrueHD 5.1.
The disc is playable in all regions (ABC).
this release can be played worldwide, unlike the release in other
territories this disc is missing the Mike Leigh and Lesley Manville
audio commentary, and two short 12-min featurettes. There are a grand
total of zero special features here, which, for a film of this quality,
is real shame.