The joke that I was prepared to make about legendary British director Mike Leigh’s latest 2-hour slow-moving character study (here) was “Watching Another Year, it felt like another year went by.”
But I just can’t rip on this movie. Sure, when I was watching the endless scenes of the mild-mannered, happily-married middle-aged couple Tom and Gerri toiling contentedly in their garden, I felt a little peckish. After the third or so scene of watching their troubled friend Mary get sloshed on wine and bemoan her loneliness, I wanted to fiddle around with my phone. And for a full hour after the final credits rolled, I dismissed the movie as a Mike Leigh misfire.
It stuck with me, though. Mary did — her desperate longing for companionship which only intensified with each gulp of wine. (There is such a thing as ‘too late,’ ladies.) Tom and Gerri did — their strange knack for, despite being such normal and content people, surrounding themselves with destructive, unahppy wackos. (Schadenfreude?) The characters… oh, no one does characters like Mike Leigh. As the filmmaker matures into his golden years, his characters follow suit… some settling, others thrashing, everything so understated that the 2 hour running time becomes soothing voyeurism, building up to the devastating end scene. “Life’s not always kind, is it,” Gerri comments to a friend. No, no it isn’t.
So Mike Leigh is too artsy and respectable to do ever do a sequel, but I’m totally up for another Another Year.