ANOTHER YEAR (Dir. Mike Leigh, 2010)
As a comfortable married couple living in London, Mike Leigh veterans Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen are happily growing old together. Their jobs - he's a geologist; she's a therapist at a local clinic - seem as agreeable as they are to each other, and in their free time they enjoy tending to their large garden.
One of Sheen's co-workers and friends (Lesley Manville) isn't so happy however. She's a frazzled mess barely holding it together, drinking too many glasses of wine and pining for a new man to come into her life.
Manville ends up embarrassingly flirting with Broadbent and Sheen's 30 year old son (Oliver Maltman) at a backyard barbeque for an old college chum (Peter Wight) who's also drinking away his sorrows in a miserable existence.
Over the course of the 4 seasons of a year, we follow these folks through their motions and get to know them in a engagingly emotional way.
When Maltman brings a spirited new girlfriend (Karina Fernandez) home to meet his parents, Manville, who happens to be visiting again, can't hide her shaken feelings. It's as naturalistic as a scene in a movie can be which must the result of Leigh's patented improvisational methods.
Whatever the case, Leigh definitely deserves the Oscar nomination he just got for Best Screenplay for this fine film.
A film in which happily there's no contrivances present - nobody has affairs, there's no shouted speeches, and there's no life changing revelations - there's only pointed reflections on aging and painful neediness.
The entire cast is excellent, but Manville should've gotten a nomination herself for her work here. She embodies all of the flaws of this troubled woman flawlessly. The Academy may not have recognized this, but she was named best actress of the year by the National Board of Review and a best actress runner-up by the National Society of Film Critics so there's that.
"Life's not always kind, is it?" Sheen remarks at one point and it's a apt statement which could act as the tagline for ANOTHER YEAR.
It's a very sad film, but it's not a depressing one. Roger Ebert once said that "all bad movies are depressing, no good movies are."
Well, this quietly profound movie is very good and it sure didn't get me down.