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With: Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Ruth Sheen, Oliver Maltman, Peter Wight, David Bradley, Martin Savage, Karina Fernandez, Michele Austin, Philip Davis, Imelda Staunton, Stuart McQuarrie, Eileen Davies, Mary Jo Randle, Ben Roberts
Written by: Mike Leigh
Directed by: Mike Leigh
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language
Running Time: 129
Date: 05/15/2010

Another Year (2010)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Something About Mary

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

British director Mike Leigh (Vera Drake, Happy-Go-Lucky) is famous for his working methods in which he develops his screenplays with the input and improvisation of the actors. This way, under his directorial guidance, he usually ends up with emotionally rich, dramatically complex movies with memorable (and sometimes funny) characters. Another Year is no exception.

Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen) are a lovely, older married couple living in London and spending time working in their community garden. Over the course of four seasons, they entertain various friends and family members in their home, including their son, Joe (Oliver Maltman), who breaks a long, dry spell by meeting a new girlfriend; Ken (Peter Wight), an overweight working stiff who drinks and complains too much, and Mary (Lesley Manville), the nervous, needy secretary who also drinks too much and flirts uncomfortably with Joe. Some of these characters look forward to new futures, some old wounds are opened, and some hard lessons are learned.

It may seem that this is one of his lesser films due to its lack of a clear central character. Tom and Gerri are the anchoring characters, and everything revolves around them, but Mary is the most prominent character, and the one with the biggest dramatic arc; moreover, notwithstanding Lesley Manville's extraordinary performance, she's not particularly likeable. But on several subtle levels, this is a very accomplished movie.

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