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A film about life, and how we choose to live it
Out of all the films that I've seen, I would have to say that "Another Year" does offer a lot of promise with it's unique and realistic outlook on life. The focus of the story is centered around a married couple, Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen), who're surrounded throughout the year by colleagues, friends, and family that all suffer from some degree of unhappiness, in their lives. Now, one would think that being around this many people with screwed up lives would get anyone down, but not this couple. If anything, Tom and Gerri seem to always carry a positive outlook on life. Always striving for that silver lining in any adverse situation. Hell, even their son, Joe (Oliver Maltman), seems to be a chip off the old block, as nothing ever phases him. I guess one could say that Tom and Gerri's immediate family is the very definition of cool headed. Sadly, the same can't be said for the rest of the characters.
One of them is Gerri's colleague and best friend, Mary (Lesley Manville), who suffers from a lot of relationship troubles, and seems to be in desperate need to reconfigure her priorities. Throughout most of the movie, Mary not only drinks a lot of alcohol, but she tends to flirt a lot with young Joe. Unfortunately, as much as she practically throws herself at the lad, he sees her as nothing more than a Aunt like figure. However, I think out of all the characters in this movie, she's arguably the most vulnerable. Not only is she in self denial about a lot of her issues, she's also the one that's the least secure about herself. Hell, if you watch the final scene with her, then your heart won't be able to help but to go out to her. As she desperately tries to put up a fake smile, you can tell she's defeated, as her life has been reduced to nothing more than a mere joke. It's a very sad sight, yet inspirational moment at the same time. Showing the viewer a sense of resonating resolve in spite adversity.
Then we get to other characters, whom each have their own sad story to tell as well. However, in spite adversity, Tom and Gerri seem to act as the mediator of peace and resolution. The proverbial "rock" if you will for their friends, family and colleagues to lean on.
I have to admit before seeing this movie, I wasn't too familiar with Mike Leigh's previous work, but he seems to have created arguably one of most touching stories that I've ever seen on the big screen. Not only does he create a powerful thought provoking story about life itself, he also manages to capture the subtle nuances of it perfectly. Showing how sometimes in life things may not always go according to plan but in the end, displaying a silver lining in every difficult situation. Sure, it's not always easy to see the bright side to life, nor is the truth always easy to swallow. But, in spite of any bad situation we face in life, we all have the capability of pulling ourselves out of it if we choose to. "Another Year" plays on these concepts quite beautifully, as it easily gets my vote for most under rated film of 2010.
Unfortunately, the film does suffer a lot from pacing issues, in various scenes, where the characters are conversing with each other, as there's a lot of long pauses during the conversation. However, it's not bad enough to where it distracts from the amazingly unique story.
Overall, I'd have to give this film a three and a half out of four. If it wasn't for the pacing issues, then I'd probably give it a perfect review. However, even with that minor flaw, "Another Year" still ranks as one of the best films of 2010.