Mike Leigh’s Another Year contains one of the best performances of 2010. The actresses’ name is Lesley Manville and she portrays a single, middle-aged woman saddened by her loneliness and aging beauty. Manville’s work helps create the perfect supporting character for a film full of different kinds of people.
The primary focus of Leigh’s character study is a long-married couple trying to spread the happiness in their life to those around them. This includes both friends and relatives that are going through all sorts of troubles. As the film continues, it becomes clearer that there is not a specific story being told. Instead, we are guided, season by season, through an entire year in the life of the couple.
But for covering a whole year’s time, Another Year never moves urgently. It is patient and relaxed, fueled by an excellent group of performances and a very good script. What separates the film from every other drama is that it uses characters that could be people that we know, and events that have probably happened to us. This helps ensure that we get to know those on the screen quickly. After all, most of the characters are ones we can relate to.
As time goes by, we are not learning about them, but rather about what is happening to them. This makes Another Year an easy film to connect to. It is rich, realistic, slow-paced, but worth-while. When there isn’t an intriguing conversation occurring (and there usually is), one can always soak up the emotions of the marvelous cast.