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He Said/She Said Review: Another Year

Another Year
dir: Mike Leigh (UK, 2010)
MGS rating: 8.1
JM rating: 9.0

This “dialogue review” of Mike Leigh’s Another Year is a joint-venture of White City Cinema and my wife Jillian’s feminist blog Exploring Feminisms. I first saw the film theatrically last January and we recently watched it together on blu-ray. This naturalistic drama, one of my favorites of the year, tells the story of a year in the life of a sixty-something married couple and their relationships with their closest friends and family.

JM: In a nutshell, Another Year is the story of a couple in middle age who are happily married, but are surrounded by friends who are unhappy. What I loved most about this film was the relationship between Tom and Gerri (who I perceive to be the main two characters). It’s easy to watch it and believe that these two people really have long-term co-habitation figured out. I think it’s rare in film to see a long-term monogamous/married couple in a successful relationship. Your thoughts?

MGS: I think you’ve hit upon one of the most remarkable aspects of the film and one that made a big impression on me when I first saw it in the theater at the beginning of 2011. Tom and Gerri are indeed a happy, well-adjusted couple and it is weird to see that at the center of a movie! But after watching it a second time on blu-ray I think one could also argue that Mary is the “main character” because she appears in all four segments and she serves as the catalyst for almost all of the drama. It seems like Tom and Gerri remain consistent throughout the film but Mary spirals increasingly out of control – to the point where she has become estranged from them by the end. If anyone deserved to win an award for this movie I think it should’ve been Lesley Manville for her performance as Mary.

What I love about this movie and what I love about Mike Leigh’s movies in general is his sense of characterization. The characters are all so well written and acted that it’s very easy to believe that their lives continue on once they leave the frame. It’s also easy to believe in, and fun to speculate about, their pasts. The characters make references to things that happened years earlier and to other characters who we never see and, even if I don’t understand all of those references, I know that Leigh and the actors know these characters’ backstories inside and out. As a viewer that makes me feel like I’m in good hands.

What do you make of the relationship between Mary and Joe, the twenty-something son of Tom and Gerri?

JM: First I’d like to address what you mentioned about the characters referring to the past, and I also completely buy into and go along with their memory recollections. This makes me think of one of my major criticisms of the movie The Last Rites of Joe May. When we are introduced to Dennis Farina’s character, Joe May, we are asked as an audience to accept that Joe was some sort of criminal and tough guy, but when I watched how his character acted in the present, I didn’t buy it at all. You can’t just expect your audience to believe whatever you present to them if it’s not done convincingly, but Leigh does it perfectly. I feel like I am part of the family.

To answer your question about Mary and young Joe’s relationship, I think that it is very sad on Mary’s part. We learn later in the film that Mary is like an aunt to Joe and when Joe was only in grade school, Mary was already an adult. When Joe is an adult, Mary hits on him, making Mary an extremely pathetic character. She is grasping at any chance to have a life with this family and essentially be part of the family, and she’ll do it by any means possible. This awkward attempt at flirtation on Mary’s part also presents Joe, like his parents, as a mature and empathetic character. Instead of being creeped out by Mary or indulging in any sort of sexual escapade with her, he shows her kindness by not making a big thing out of it. I don’t know if I totally agree with you that Mary could be the main character because I feel that it is more of an ensemble cast. Maybe though, I just liked Tom and Gerri’s characters and their relationship to each other and their friends so much that I have blinders on only for them when I watch the film.

Besides Mary, what do you think of Tom and Gerri’s other friends and family and their relationships to them?

MGS: Good point of contrast with Joe May.

I think that Ken is also a fascinating character. I get the sense that he and Tom probably started out in a similar place when they were young men but that, over the years, Ken has somehow made bad decisions that have led to him becoming bitter, out of shape, alcoholic and alone. Tom of course tries to help him in the way that old friends do, which leads to some of the film’s most painful moments. I think Leigh suggests that Ken and Mary could hypothetically have a relationship and help each other out; Ken clearly wants it but Mary seems to have unrealistic ideas about what her long-term relationship prospects are.

I also really like the character of Ronnie, Tom’s taciturn brother. I love the way he’s introduced only in the final section; as you know, the film charts a year in the life of its characters and is split up into chapters that correspond to the four seasons, each of which has its own distinct visual style. It seems like introducing the emotionally damaged Ronnie after the death of his wife (unseen by the audience) completely justifies the desaturated color palette of this “Winter chapter.” Obviously, this is a very somber part of the movie but I also think there’s a wonderful, deadpan humor to some of the exchanges between Ronnie and Mary. What did you make of their interactions?

JM: First of all, I completely agree with the winter section corresponding to the death of Ronnie’s wife! I felt like that part was so sad and mournful, and thinking back the lighting and weather mirrored that.

Admittedly, I didn’t really know what to think of the relationship between Mary and Ronnie. I felt that Mary, yet again, was attempting to cling to a member of the Tom/Gerri family and will flirt with whomever will be her key to that world. As for his interest in her, the connection lies in loneliness, companionship and the social act of smoking cigarettes. I tried to read more into it, as if maybe they’d end up together, but overall I think that I was romanticizing it.

MGS: I feel like there’s zero chance that those two could end up together but I have to admire Mary’s manic, indomitable persistence. One of my favorite moments is when she asks him about The Beatles and he replies that he’s an Elvis man. Then she sings a line from “All Shook Up”!

I’d like to conclude my thoughts by saying that I think Another Year is a great title for this film. It reminds us that what we’re watching is a slice of life; I feel like Leigh and his estimable cast show us the high and low points of one year in the life of these characters but that there could have been many similar movies made about the same characters in any of the other years of their lives. This is one of the ways in which it reminds me of the work of one of my favorite directors, Japan’s Yasujiro Ozu. Also Ozu-like is how Leigh manages to examine family ties in a way that feels simultaneously culturally specific and universal.

It’s well known that Leigh’s screenplays evolve out of improvisational workshops with his actors and I feel like he has perfected that process over the decades. To borrow a phrase from an old beer commercial, I think it allows his movies to reach a place, in terms of character development, that the other movies can’t. So that is why I think Another Year is a very special film. Any final thoughts you’d like to add?

JM: I’ve never seen any of the director’s other films, but this one definitely piques my interest to explore further. There is something so intriguing about his characters that when I finished watching the film, I felt like I was closing a really great book. I was sad that it was over, and also that I wouldn’t be a part of their lives anymore.

Another Year is currently available in a splendid blu-ray/dvd combo pack from Sony Pictures.

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About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

42 responses to “He Said/She Said Review: Another Year

  • Top Ten Films of 2011 « White City Cinema

    […] Another Year (Leigh, UK) – Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema. More here. […]

  • Viki

    You get a lot of respect from me for writing these helpful artciels.

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    […] 8.2 Carlos (Assayas, France/Germany, 2010) – 8.2 Prometheus (Scott, USA, 2012) – 8.2 Another Year (Leigh, UK, 2010) – 8.3 Mildred Pierce (Haynes, USA, 2011) – 8.3 Hugo (Scorsese, […]

  • Irfan Makani

    Another Year is not just another movie. This movie is based on real life not a fantasy or fictional work. It revolves around a family and friends of that family. Tom and Gerri are a well-to-do married couple who have a son named Joe. Mary is Gerri’s close friend and after years of getting to know that family especially Joe, she has developed a feeling for Joe. I agree that Mary is probably the main character in the film because she comes in all of the parts. However, I would have like a “happier ending”. Perhaps Ronnie could have been shown talking to Mary, indicating that they might become friends because they’ve both fallen on hard times. Joe’s girlfriend seemed nice, but they could add spice to the story by showing them get married and see Mary’s response. I found the Mr. Gupta scene unnecessary because it didn’t represent the story the director was trying to pull out. A lot of drinking is shown throughout the movie. I thought it was very unhealthy but funny at the same time when Ken is shown smoking and drinking at the same time. “Life sucks” is something that he was probably saying to himself. I think this movie is a good work of art that depicts everyday life for some families.

  • Allen Boguslavsky

    Another Year is a brilliant real depiction of life. The up’s and down’s are always going to be there, Hollywood has a theory on not showing these smiles and cries always. In Another Year – the movie ended on a sadder note, but only to be manipulated by the viewer. Maybe Mary will find the shining light? It all depends on the perspective of how the viewer took the film, which I find interesting. Art is such a vague and giant word that it can come from anything. Just because there isn’t an evident plot in Another Year that doesn’t mean it’s a beautiful movie. I loved the comedy and I loved the characters. You get a real sense of each character and can sure relate them to some of your friends, families, or actualities you’ve encountered in life. I believe the Mike Leigh was trying to get this message across, “you know a Ken, you know a Mary, you know a Joe!” This movie was a lenses into real life! The scene when Joe met with his immigrant clients was brilliant, his response to the Indian lady working at a restaurant, “Yummy” was hilarious and subtle – but just reminds you how life can always be comedic with its sadness. The ladies father was dealing with an eviction issue, but that shouldn’t stop joy from intervening every once in a while. My favorite theme of the film was how everything was filmed in seasonal quarters, I find not enough movies take advantage of portioning and if done very well, it can be a beautiful tool for the director. It gives you a little breathing room and some space to grasp what you’ve just seen and allow the viewer to mentally engage in the film and interpret it their own way.

  • Ivona Jesic

    Another Year very impressive movie by Mike Leigh. This movie starts on very unusual way character from the beginning actually have no connection to main characters and action in the film but gives a great example of a depressed and very unhappy person on which one of our character called Mary starts to look a look especially at the end of the movie. This movie is mostly based on relationships between people. Main characters Tom and Gerri why are husband and wife in this movie present very lovely and happy couple with the wonderful relationship and life. Mary who is from my perspectives main character because she is present in all four seasons how the movie is divided into seasons she is very much opposite of the Tom and Gerri and her life is not truly filled with happiness as she really at the beginning tries to present. Mary present very unhappy person who at the beginning tries to hide her discontent and sadness by acting as a very happy person full of energy but her alcohol addiction is telling the truth. We already know that nothing stays forever and at the end Mary finally showed her true face and her real feelings. In addition, Mary spends a lot of time in the Tom and Gerri’s house in hope to be accepted and feel like a part of the good and lovely family like they are which she by herself does not have. Also, in hope to become part of the family she tried to flirt to Tom and Gerri’s son for whom she is only aunt Mary and nothing else as well as Tom’s brother Ronnie but her idea fall apart when she was rejected by Ronnie and meet Joe’s girlfriend Kathy who is young version of her.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Good observation about Mary showing her “true face and her real feelings” at the end of the film. Even though most people don’t think of the ending as “happy,” I think there is something optimistic about her self-awareness – the first step on the road to change.

  • brad fagan

    Another Year is an agonizing drama about how Tom and Gerri choose to live out the remaining years of their lives. Mike Leigh views Tom and Gerri as a happily married couple living in a middle class neighborhood in London. I am not quite sure that Mike Leigh believes the sixty something year old couple are really as content as we may think. They rarely laugh or even smile, yet they seem content living in their own world. They simply tend to their garden and put up with a bunch of dysfunctional friends and family members in a matter of fact way. However, Tom and Gerri are good people who love each other and worship their thirty year old son, Joe.
    Mike Leigh creates his own version of Tom and Gerri’s world. Their heroes seem to be happily married and college educated people. The couple are happy at work— where they are surrounded by people that appreciate them, and thus Tom and Gerri are content with their lot in life. They are unpretentious people that keep busy and seem to have little interest in what is happening beyond their world. Gerri is a social worker who confronts people who are often depressed and those who have very little desire to keep on living. Tom is a geological engineer. He considers his work to be important because it deals with “the very foundation of society.” Tom and Gerri realize life follows a natural cycle, thus the four seasons are a reminder their lives are in a constant state of flux; and yet they are reluctant to move on to another year because they are seem to be uncertain where they are actually they are actually going.
    Tom and Gerri feel an obligation to treat all of the people they come in contact with dignity —in this respect, they feel a responsibility to make the world a better place. However, theyi are reluctant to step up to the plate when the chips are down. For example, Gerri never really felt it necessary to help Mary deal with her problems. She just kept handing her another glass of wine in order to pacify her. Tom was also aware that Ken has many problems, and he never encouraged him to talk to a doctor about his health issues. Therefore, Tom and Gerri are like most people—flawed characters just trying to make it through another year.

    • michaelgloversmith

      “Therefore, Tom and Gerri are like most people—flawed characters just trying to make it through another year.” Extremely well said. As much as we would like to see them be more selfless and proactive in helping their friends, the film is too interested in realism for that to happen. 10/10

  • Jowayne Calma

    Another year is a movie that shows the lives of the couple “Tom and Gerri” and the people around them. I noticed that the people that are close to them like Joe, Ken and Mary are all single contrary to the couple with a strong relationship. And as the season goes something good happens to one of them like Mary getting a car in summer and Joe having a girlfriend in fall. Everything was okay until winter where Ronnie’s wife died. The colors made it look like winter is the saddest season while summer is the happiest for them in the movie. I also think Tom and Gerri’s friends Ken and Mary are opposite from what they are in terms of relationship status, while Ken and Mary are similar in some aspects like they are both single, loves to drink and smoke. I actually thought they are going to end up together but it didn’t. I noticed something about liquor that it might have a significance in the movie because most of them are drinking liquor, I seldom saw them drink something else. Except for the scene where Mary and Ronnie are drinking (tea or coffee?) together. This movie is a complete opposite to movies that portray unrealistic lives like everything being fine with happy endings and such. This shows the reality that in our life “ups and downs” may happen. And as Mr. Smith said that this isn’t a plot based movie, so I really didn’t expect anything at all or think of what will happen next. But that how life, is we don’t know what will happen next so just enjoy it!

    • michaelgloversmith

      Good point about everyone around Tom and Gerri being single – but that’s only, of course, during this _particular_ year. Ken and Mary both allude multiple past relationships. A film about a different year in the lives of these same characters might have shown Ken and Mary in a more positive light. 10/10

  • Ivana Jesic

    The film Another Year is displayed in four different seasons and demonstrate happy family Tom, Gerri and Joe and their life during each season. Also, one of the main characters of this film is Marry, Gerri’s best friend without which the film would not be interesting. The film starts with spring, a season in which starts nice weather, everything is bright and warm also actors in the movie are happy and full of energy. Happiness and harmony between Tom and Gerri are obvious while Mary is acting a false energy and happiness. Throughout the film as alternate seasons all that energy and the light slowly fades.While approaching the end of the film begins to increasingly customize to show its dissatisfaction and disappointment. Unlike Mary Joe’s life is changing for the better. He finds a girlfriend, named Katie which makes him and his family happy and replaces Mary’s desired role to be in a relationship with Joe. All that animosity occurs between Katie and Mary because Katie is the younger version of the Mary and have the chance to be with Joe even his parents nicely accepted Katie to be part of their family. End of the film is a stark contrast from the beginning. It is winter. Ronnie, Tom’s brother is sad because of the loss of his wife. Mary is unhappy because of not reciprocated love. Everything is dark and cold but loves that warms Tom and Gerri remains from the beginning to the end of the film.

  • Quin Siegel

    Another Year was a very beautiful movie to watch. I loved how the color palette, saturation, and color balanced changed from season to season. It becomes almost impossible to miss during the winter section when the film becomes very unsaturated and the color balance of the blue has been raised by quite a lot. These color changes seem to resemble the emotional changes in the characters, specifically Mary, Ken, and Ronnie.
    What stood out to me the most on the initial viewing was the theme of existentialism. Mary, Ken, and Ronnie all seemed to be going through some kind of existential mid-life crisis of their own. Mary never found a mate or formed a family. Ken could retire, but doesn’t because he would have nothing left to do with his life. Ronnie has no real family left after his wife dies because he is estranged from his own son. All of these characters are missing the stability that Tom, Gerri, and Joe have. I think this is because Mike Leigh is telling us that family is the most important thing in life. Building close relationships with your loved ones is all one really has in life. The characters that don’t have this aspect, Mary, Ken, and Ronnie, are all in a state of disfunction. Instead, these characters try to fill their void with constant alcoholism and smoking.
    I agree with your description of the characterization of the film. All the characters feel very real and not scripted. They all make subtle references to past moments in life that are very believable. The one that stood out to me was when Mary made a Thelma & Louise reference. The reference seemed cheery when she said it, however, Thelma & Louise is a bit of a dark film, especially with its ending.

    • michaelgloversmith

      The THELMA AND LOUISE reference is hilarious: Mary says, after buying a car, “I feel like Thelma and Louise!” It’s funny because she thinks the very act of owning a car will solve her problems and she’s also comparing herself to two people. 10/10

  • Omar K Mohammed

    The film Another Year offers an interesting concept of character development that is not normally seen in most films. For example, the main characters Tom and Gerri Hepple have almost no internal conflict between them. They do have a lot of conflicts with the characters around them but rather than resolving the problems in the end, it seems that the film starts out in a good situation but then it moves into conflict. Mary, the only other character to appear in each of the seasons, has an internal conflict but it only it gets worse as the film progresses. The ending of the film shows Mary’s face while she appears unsure of her future. From what was discussed in class, the film focused on the each of the characters rather than an actual plot, but it does not reflect character development in fact the opposite happens. Ken, who appears in the summer, also deals with an internal problem, but it doesn’t seem to resolve for him. He takes an interest in Mary who ultimately shuts him down. After seeing how Ken reaches his lowest point, traditionally one would expect a change of character. After the Summer chapter, Ken is never heard from. This film has an unorthodox form of storytelling, which maybe the reason that I found it so interesting.

  • NickWeimer

    -=-=-=SPOILERS OF COURSE=-=-=-

    The depth of the characters, I think, really speaks to Leigh’s whole workshoppy, iterative, improv-y approach to the writing/directing process. I think it shows real results, both in the script and in the acting. It’s really quite cool. I think that JM’s comparison to a ‘great book’ is right; the characters feel revised and realized in a way many often don’t, and that might be a product of Leigh’s particular performance-paired-with-penning production-process.

    Mary’s reaction to Ronnie (as well as Ronnie’s reaction to pretty much anything) is pretty funny. Ronnie exits the scene and Mary and Gerri have a talk and a hug, and start to set the table when Mary says “He’s really nice, Ronnie, isn’t he?” “…” This is a little funny (right after the dramatic conversation (I love the shifts of humor and drama; this film is great at awkward tension)) and the implication that Mary is now sort-of considering a potential relationship with Ronnie, does, as JM was saying, make it seem, moreso, that Mary is desperately scrambling to be part of Gerri’s family, and to hold on to her decaying relationship with her. I think the main-‘character’ of the film (if it has one) might really be the relationship between Mary and Gerri.

    -=- =- =- -= -=-= -=- = =–= -=-=– =-== -= –=- =- -=- =-= -=-= – -= =-=-=-=

    I love the way Leigh uses seasons as his structure. Birth (the pregnant doctor (named Tanya)) to Death (the funeral); Rain to Sun to Ice; The cycle of the garden. The four-part season-structure embodies the film’s life/relationship-cycle themes, breaking the story up into vignettes while maintaining what I think is a pretty tight time-line for this strung-together, slice-of-life sort of story. It really is a Slice-of-Life. A chunk… Chunks of life. Cycles of life sprinkled over a chunk of a cycle of chunks of life… cycle of chunks….. genre…

    Nevermind.

    I thought that the idea mentioned in class about the patient in the first scene being a sort of a future-Mary, and Katie being a kind of a past-Mary was interesting in contrast with the progression of the other aspects of the film. It’s like Mary’s end is at the start, and her beginning is at the end, and it’s all going backwards compared to everything-else which is beginning in… the beginning, and progressing toward death and the implied birth/renewal of yet Another Year/Spring following the terribly wintery ‘conclusion’—which is a great final shot: slowly (sloooowly) panning around the happy table showing Joe and Katie, and Tom and Gerri, talking and laughing and eating, and Ronnie—eating, about as happily as I suspect Ronnie can ever be seen to eat—and finally settling into a long-take close-up Mary’s sad, sad face, fading into complete silence, completing the Winter-section’s total-dulling of all channels involved. The final shot visually illustrates the ‘final’ state of the ‘hierarchy’ of their relationships. And of course it’s also just totally sad, and well-acted, and impressive in a bunch of other ways, but I thought it was a cool way to show the change in their relationships (which I think is ‘The Change’ of the film (Mary and Gerri’s relationship in particular), and it’s a great method of providing closure to a story without an ending.

    (Also: Poor, poor Sloppy-Ken; the truly tragic figure of the film. His personal end comes halfway through, ‘dying’ at the end of Summer.)

    • michaelgloversmith

      I agree that the Gerri/Mary relationship is the heart of the film. Mary asks Ronnie at the end if Tom and Gerri had ever mentioned her and Ronnie says “No.” The devastated look on Mary’s face speaks volumes. The idea that she might be unimportant to Gerri is the worst realization she could have.

      I’m also glad you pointed out the humor in the Mary/Ronnie scene. Mary’s line about Ronnie being “nice” is hilarious since she’s the one who did all the talking.

      Finally, yes, Ken is the most tragic figure in the film — he seems much less likely to ever change than Mary. 10/10

  • Derek Colon

    Another Year was anything but ordinary. The characterization of this film was fascinating! When watching the film, one would assume that Tom and Gerri were the main two characters and that the film was depicting what they had to deal with in life over the time frame of a year. After watching the film, I implore the thought that is not Tom and Gerri as the main characters, but Marry, the co worker of Gerri and longtime friend of Tom and Joe. Looking at the first scene of the movie, the random woman, who is never seen again in the film, had extremely similar traits to Mary towards the end of this film. My argument is that this scene was a forshadow of what Mary will become down the line and this hints that Mary is the true main character of this film. The moment in the film to back this up is when Joe brings his girlfriend to the dinner and Mary interacts with her. I think that Mary saw a younger version of herself in Joe’s girlfriend, and envied her success. Mary became jealous and depressed by the thought that she was wasting her life away drinking while she could’ve ended up just like the success story she saw sitting on the opposite end of the table (great symbolism using camera work with that scene too). I mean c’mon: it was no coincidence that Mary and Katie were sitting on opposite ends of the table staring at each other. Katie was the catalyst that sent Mary into a deep depressive hole and alcoholism even greater than what she was already experiencing. So if Katie was the younger form of Mary, and the woman doing therapy is what is to come for Mary, then the idea that I’m wrestling with is that this whole film was the depiction of how Mary went from being a successful, independent and attractive to the alcoholic old woman on the therapy couch, quiet and alone, needing pills to have decent sleep. This whole film greatly reminded me of the documentary film we watched last semester in terms of the emotions I felt after watching the film. Given that Another Year is not a plot based film, there were a lot of questions on my mind immediately after the movie ended. Why did Tom and Gerri put up with Mary and Joe for the amount of time that they did. Were Tom and Gerri even the main characters of the film? How did Tom’s brother end up having such a bitter relationship with his son? All of these questions were so intriguing that I feel like I must rewatch this film to search for some of the answers. That is exactly why I think this film was so good: it will always keep you entertained. One may know what happens in the film scene by scene, but the questions are still there in their head, and they will watch it again to see if they missed anything to answer them. Both the camera work and characterization of this film was astounding and should be rewarded, if it hasn’t been already. Can’t wait to watch it again with my girlfriend to see what she thinks of it. 4.7 out of 5 stars!

    • michaelgloversmith

      Really like your observation that the opening scene is a kind of microcosm of the film as a whole. Also, this is a great movie to watch with a significant other (as my joint-review attests): lots to talk about afterwards! 10/10

  • MOUAZ ZABADNEH

    It’s the first time I see a movie that doesn’t have a good or a bad ending and honestly that makes me feel weird in the end of the movie but thinking about it later at home I got the idea is that Cinema has many different way to get people attracted. Another year, is a different kind of movie that talks about people real life where there’s a happy people also people who fake that they are happy also shows how other people are rude and that was the main focus in the movie. The movie another year could have another name like (personalities).

    Another point that the author show how some people know how to pick the right person that he can or she can spend their life with like Tom and Gerri, and also point that people sometimes will see someone who is exactly like him or her and they don’t care about them and look for other people how are beater or they Unsuitable for them like marry and her feelings toward Joe.

    On the other hand we see Gerri how is very strong women who take care of her family and friends, also Gerri seem to be the mother of marry where marry comes always to her house and tell her what’s going on with her.

    Also Tom and Gerri’s house seem to be a house for not only the family but also for friend and the movie point how there friend will walk into the house and go to the bath room and then to joe’s room without Tom and Gerri being asked and the funny part that they were not even angry.
    The women in the beginning of the film confused me spatially that she was not brought back or shown in any other seen in the movie, but I will conclude that this women will be marry after couple of years.

    In the end I like the movie because it talks about facts from our life’s and show how the happy family is the family who understand and respect and handle other people personalities.

    • michaelgloversmith

      While some of your classmates lamented the lack of a “happy ending,” I think your assessment that the ending is neither “good” nor “bad” is more accurate. It ends the way a year ends in life – on an up note for some and on a down note for others. And who knows what next year will bring? 10/10

  • Esam Mohammed

    Mike Leigh’s film Another Year is unlike any other film I have seen before. Unlike most traditional films, Another Year doesn’t offer a set plot, climax or conclusion. The movie revolves around the lives of Tom and Gerri and their family/friends. While the movie doesn’t offer a plot, it does an excellent job of showing a realistic perspective on the different relationships. For example, when we are first introduced to Mary and Gerri, Mary is unstable emotionally and is unpleasant to be around. Geri understands that Mary has problems but she still tolerates and welcomes her over. As the film progresses Gerri begins to realize the emotional distraught Mary has on her family and as a result begins to distance herself. The movie ends off on a sad note with Gerri suggesting that Mary should seek help from a therapist and Marry staring quietly at the wall while the entire family is enjoying dinner at the table. In most movies when there is a conflict between characters it is eventually resolved at the end, but Another Year offers a more convincing and realistic ending instead. Overall the movie and actors do a great job at highlighting the different perspectives and reactions of relationships between individuals .

  • Davis Negrillo

    This film I definitely enjoyed. It had that typical English humor comparable to Death at a Funeral, which I had mentioned in class. It also had a Crash sort of feel to it, with the way we were introduced to characters and then combining them. Not much for a plot story, again as mentioned before, but I don’t think that took anything away. In fact, I think if Mike Leigh had come up with a specific plot, it would’ve diminished the film somewhat. Another Year consisted of four chapters, in the form of seasons, spring, summer, autumn, and winter. With each season you could definitely see the mood changes that one would associate with that season. For instance, spring, was bright and colorful, full of loving emotions. Everyone was pretty easygoing. And then for winter, everyone was in more of a colder state of mind. The bright moods had sort of diminished. You could also see the filming change with the seasons. Again, spring was bright and cool while winter was more dark and cold. Someone had mentioned that the woman from the beginning was a sort of foreshadowing on the life of Mary. I thought that was interesting, since I did not really pick that up watching the film. I could definitely see that though, with the woman obviously not being happy with her life choices such as her husband. Mary surely seemed that she would make a wrongful decision in choosing a husband, as she had mentioned the guy she really liked was already married. Mary was probably mine, and assuming majority of watchers, favorite character to watch. Being in a midlife crisis, she was the definition of the over the hill basket case. She kept talking about her decisions in life that, although were with good intentions, were horribly made, like buying a car. Her intentions for buying a car, a used car, were that it was cheaper than taking the “choo”, she’d be more independent, and it’d be easier to go wherever she wanted. That ended up badly because she bought a lemon of a car. The vehicle was probably stolen, had parts replaced with faulty parts and was as much of a mess as she was. Later on, you can see how her decision that there would be something between her and Joe, and that she should be so abrupt with Joes new girlfriend, Katie, ate her up since her only friend Gerri, had essentially cut her out of her life. As Mary was telling the group about her troubles with owning a car, she and Tom have this little back and forth that I feel was a huge look at symbolism. Essentially, Tom is telling Mary that maybe should get rid of the car and, while staring at Joe and Katie, she says “I can’t, you see, I’ve spent so much on it already”. I believe she was slightly referring to the car but majorly referring to her time with Joe and hoping that there may still be something more between them. Then, after all that, she comes back to the house looking like a car wreck. You find out she had to get rid of her car, she’s still upset about Joe and Katie but very slowly letting go of the fantasy that consisted of Joe being hers. Overall, good movie that would/have recommended to some friends that I think would appreciate it.

    • michaelgloversmith

      I agree wholeheartedly that a stronger plot would have “diminished” the film. In most movies, the characters serve the story. It’s the other way around here: what little story there is is there only to serve the characters. Thank God for that! 10/10

  • Brian Stern

    In the film Another Year directed by Mike Leigh you follow a year in the life of longtime married couple Tom and Gerri and the interactions or changes the occur within the people in their circle. The story is separated into four acts that convey the general themes of four the four seasons in a year. Throughout the film the main characters utilize and tend to a plot in a community garden. The use of this garden sets the scene to what tones are going to be seen play out with in the characters. It was previously mentioned in the post film discussion how Gerri’s work friend Mary might also be considered as a central or main character. In terms of what I mentioned about the tones between character development and the actions in the garden from season to season, Mary is the among the few characters that appear in all four acts. You see how she changes from season to season much like the garden. In the Spring you are shown Tom and Gerri clearing and preparing the plot for a new season much like how Mary is when she comes up with her plan of moving forward in the terms of purchasing a car. In the Summer the garden has new life and healthy growth like how when Mary has the car she shows an optimism that doors are opening and a new freedoms are possible. Autumn shows that things are changing. It’s time to harvest in and see what the year’s effort brought you. In the Tom and Gerri’s garden you have the vegetables they collect. In terms of Mary you see that her quick remedy of the car is causing more issues than doors opening and the optimism of the previous season is beginning to dwindle. In Winter the plants garden in the garden are dead or dying. Everything is cleared and things are put away into a state of waiting until the circle begins again in Spring. Mary and the journey she had with her car ends with it being totaled and a being worth only a small minute fraction of what she put into it. Her optimism is gone and whatever she thought the care would internally fix is shown externally in her appearance. In the beginning of the movie the first character you see is a patient named Janet who is depressed and an insomniac, at wits end seeking a quick fix to cure her unhappiness and insomnia. The similarity between Janet’s character in the beginning and Mary’s at the end of the Winter act causes one to believe Mary would be Janet come spring. She’s at her lowest in Winter and come Spring she would be in search of a new fix. What the fix is going to be is open to speculation since there is a split between Gerri’s suggestion to Mary of seeking some form of counseling to fix her issues as well as Mary’s mention of a plan of moving to start over. In essence avoiding confronting the issues and prolonging her internal/external conflict.

  • Prat Moshy

    I enjoyed this movie a lot more than Le Havre. Mike Leigh changed the role of what a traditional movie and role of a character should look like. In Another year the movie was completely different from what I expected because it didn’t actually have a rising action, climax, and solution to what was going on. It did however focus on the importance of each character. Tom and Gerri are an old couple who are in love with each other and are caught up taking care of their friends Mary and Ken. It’s interesting how Leigh set up the movie by seasons in a year. The one that stood out to me the most would be the winter section of the movie. Leigh created that section of the film to feel cold. He really put in a lot of detail to make each scene feel right. When it switched to the winter section the color temperature became low and the attitude of each character became blue/sad. I actually felt my mood changing with each section. Besides the feeling of the movie I think the most important and interesting character in the movie was Mary. Mary brought this enthusiastic/depressing character to the film. She is a damaged woman who lost her husband and oath of her life. She goes overboard disrespecting her best friend Gerri and ends up being completely broken. The end of the film makes you think what Mary does to make herself happier and a better person. It’s almost like u build a bond with each character.

  • Dakota D

    I found this film a welcome change from the previous film La Havre. Aptly named Another Year, Lee’s film allows us to follow the lives of a multitude of characters through any other year. I felt as though this films construction was interesting. I thought on its most basic layer, Another Year focuses on Tom and Gerri as a couple. This is made obvious by the fact that every part of the movie is always comes back to Tom and Gerri. I agree with Michael though that on a more complex layer I thought the movie’s leading character was Gerri, while shifting focus on secondary characters. For instance, when the audience first meets Peter he becomes our secondary character. Throughout the scene where Peter, Tom and Gerri are having lunch the camera is focused mainly on Peter. However, based on the way Lee frames his characters, I don’t believe that he is the true center of this scene. As the camera pans around the table Peter sits in the left half of the frame, opposing him Tom sits in the right half. Gerri on the other hand is dead center frame. Whenever Lee cuts to Gerri she is on complete focus, she is the center of attention that you need to be looking at. This is repeated again when we see scenes of Mary. The camera is mainly focuses on her but Gerri is always placed center frame of greatest importance. Lee also did some other cinematography throughout the film which I found interesting. During the scene before the funeral the family is all sitting around in Ronnie’s house. Most of the subjects are positioned left of frame, however Lee has placed Tom far right of frame. This makes him seem as though he is not actually part of the scene, somehow removed from the outward emotional ties of his brother’s loss. Lee keeps him in the scene however by placing him so that as an audience we can always see his reflection in the mirror above the rest of the family. In the three to four scenes that take place in that room, including after they all leave for the funeral segments, Tom is always standing in the reflection of the mirror. By doing this, Lee drew my attention more towards Tom than anyone else in the room. Was Tom the secondary character of that scene? I don’t know, but Lee made that reflection for a reason.

    • michaelgloversmith

      Excellent job noting how Mike Leigh (and his great DP, Dick Pope) carefully compose their shots so that the viewers’ eyes are directed towards exactly the characters they want us to focus on in any given moment. 10/10

  • Jimmy Nellamattathil

    Another year, directed by Mike Leigh, was a wonderfully directed film that kept me enticed throughout the film. I loved the fact that there were many different things going on but it was centered around an old monogamous couple whose lives seem to continue without much change. The relationships between the characters were the most interesting. Tom and Gerri’s relationship is picture perfect. When watching the film, it reminded me of my grandparents who until their very last day were never bitter and were always willing to offer a helping hand to anyone they cared for. I really liked the way that Tom and Gerri spent much of their time together in the garden. This reminded me of my own parents who are both busy with work throughout the day, but on the weekends they’ll spend hours outside conversing and taking care of their garden. I found the relationships with Tom and Ken as well as Gerri and Mary to be quite sad. It was difficult to see how much Mary relied on Gerri for support and friendship. It was sad to see how lonely Mary was and seemed like Gerri took pity upon her which is why they were friends to begin with. On the contrary, Tom and Ken had known each other for many years and were childhood buddies. However, it seemed like Tom felt bad for Ken like Gerri toward Mary. It was interesting how Leigh placed these two unhappy, lonely alcoholics into the lives of Tom and Gerri to show us the vast spectrum of relationships that can be had. I found the relationship between Mary and Joe to have been a little disturbing. For a woman, who had known Joe since he was a child, to be flirtatious with him looking for some kind of romantic relationship seemed desperate and sad. For Mary to be chasing an entry into the family of Tom and Gerri in any way made her out to be a bit stalkerish in my opinion. Overall I thought this film was a great film. It was especially great because it was so easy to relate to every character. It seemed like I knew someone in my life currently that portrayed every single character in the film which made it enjoyable to watch and easy to love.

    • michaelgloversmith

      I like the personal touch you brought to this response. Watching this film _should_ make us think about our own lives and our relationships with family members and friends. If it’s a great movie (and I think it is) then that’s because it says things about people that we recognize to be true. 10/10

  • whalen207

    All in all Another Year (2010) is an excellent film and a great way to introduce students to Foreign (or Global, rather) Cinema without departing too much from the familiar. Dialogue approaches Tarantino levels of quality, effortlessly immersing viewers in the story throughout.

    I agree that Mary and her emotional struggle are the center of the film. The film takes great time to introduce, explain, and even give a subtle history of Mary’s distress. Mike Leigh opens with a scene of Gerri talking to her patient, Janet, about her insomnia. The way the scene is portrayed, both with Dick Pope’s excellent cinematography and Leigh’s naturally flowing dialogue, makes clear immediately that Janet has deep-set problems she’s ignoring in favor of simply medicating them.

    By the end of the movie, as Mary becomes less and less capable of suppressing her stress, it becomes clear that this scene served as mirror image of Mary’s future. Katie, the girlfriend Joe starts dating halfway through the film, spends nearly ten minutes onscreen talking directly to Mary about how overwhelmingly similar they are: Katie is quite literally just a younger, prettier, more successful Mary. Her dismissiveness and later derision of Mary’s problems is, quite possibly, how Mary would have treated her present self at a younger age.

    I’d also like to raise the possibility of Mary’s more physical, tangible problems — her car breaking down, getting broken into, her being groped so much on the train and elsewhere — as fantasies. She constantly (at least in the first half of the film) attempts to draw conversations towards herself… until she’s questioned about her mental stability or car insurance. Mary may very well be a pathological liar, and I think that’s what Leigh intended to get across. Doesn’t mean I don’t pity her, and the fact that “her” is a character in a two-hour film just shows how immersive Leigh’s work is.

    – Jack Whalen

    • michaelgloversmith

      “(Katie’s) dismissiveness and later derision of Mary’s problems is, quite possibly, how Mary would have treated her present self at a younger age.” Well said. We know that Mary used to work at a bar on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca when she was younger. It’s very easy to imagine her prettier, younger self back then making fun of an older customer who may have been alcoholic, emotional wreck without realizing that was her own future. 10/10

  • Esho Youkhana

    “Another Year” directed by Mike Leigh is a movie about just a part of people’s lives. What I really enjoyed about the film is how Mike Leigh really built up his characters to the point where I can almost guess their next moves. Using dialogue, the characters personalities blossom as they express themselves in a British humor kind of way. As Mr. Smith said in his class lecture on the day we watched the movie, the characters are like chemicals and they are thrown in together like to see what kind of chemical reaction the director would get. I would also have to agree with Jillian’s statement when she said its rare to see a marriage working out in a film. I believe that is true and more directors should express marriages in a more positive manner. I do agree with Mr. Smith on his opinion that Mary is the main character. I think Mary is the main character because she is shown in all four segments and she changes the most in the film. In the beginning of the film, Mary was filled with energy and but was lacking emotional health. In the end of the film, Mary is just a mess physically and mentally (the cold color pallet does not help situation). Mike Leigh does a good job showing us communication between people. The different color pallets was a very clever from Mike Leigh because it helped the viewers transition into the next season easily. I believe there is also an essence of emotional health in the film that Mike Leigh might be trying to show. Clearly, we saw that Ken and Mary were not doing well mentally and Ken specifically was also not doing well physically. He was just as a mess as Mary, and Mike Leigh did a great job making us feel bad for him. If there is any lesson given to the viewers, I believe the message is to make good choices in life and to communicate positively with other people in also a good manner.

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