Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies, Vera Drake) has brought us another brilliant observation of the human condition, and asks why some people find contentment and others just cannot. The film observes a year in the life of a happily married couple (Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen). They generously host their friends and family; the couple (and we the audience) pick up insights about the visitors – variously scarred by unhappy circumstance, cluelessness and self-destructiveness.
Mike Leigh may be the cinema’s best director of actors, and Another Year is filled with excellent performances, especially Broadbent and Sheen, David Bradley and Peter Wight. The wonderful Imelda Staunton drops in with a searing cameo at the beginning of the film. But Lesley Manville has the flashiest role – and gives the most remarkable performance – as a woman whose long trail of bad choices hasn’t left her with many options for a happy life.
Another Year is one of Leigh’s best.