You people who want something to happen in movies, come back another day. For those of you still reading, you may find it refreshing to see a film about a gracious, happily married couple living fulfilled, albeit mundane lives.
Professionally, they contribute constructively – she, a professional counselor trying her best to ease troubled lives; he, an engineer on big infrastructure projects. Their grown son is also a professional and well adjusted, well along. (His parents remain poised waiting for their son to develop a serious relationship.) At home, where most of the inaction takes place, they seem to attract, shall we say, needier people than themselves into their midst.
Writer and director Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” draws an analogy to the four seasons of the garden that these life partners tend. It’s not easy, but it’s gratifying. Leigh’s offbeat urban stories (“Secrets & Lies,” “Vera Drake,” “Happy Go Lucky”) put different brands of character on display, effectively showing what coping means in unglamorous lives. “Another Year” sustains Leigh’s filmmaking style well.
What you might call the juice that gives this film some edge comes from a co-worker and friend whose desperation for a better personal life is accelerating. Leigh has a way of juxtaposing anxieties and unassuming resiliency and does not shy away from scraping fingernails down the blackboard of life.
Leigh never calls to attention that the lead character is a homely woman. Sure, why not mention it? For this slice-of-life film, noticing her looks enhances the aura that she’s entirely comfortable in her own skin, confident in her embracing attitude. The husband, he’s not much of a specimen to center a script around either. Yet, he’s also a good person, appreciative of his modest good life. With “Another Year,” Mike Leigh invites you once again into his curious niche of low-key filmmaking and the odd ways he portrays some of the good graces of life.