Tuesday, December 6, 2022


December 31, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Ordinariness is at the heart of Mike Leigh’s extraordinary Another Year, the critics all suggest. (The film is opening in limited release this weekend in order to qualify for Oscar nominations.) As Claudia Puig puts it in her USA Today review, “Initially, it doesn’t seem as if much is going on, but the casual details, nuanced performances and clever dialogue are hard to shake from memory.”

Ruth Sheen and Jim Broadbent

Or as Kyle Smith describes it in the New York Post: “Leigh’s clarity and honest (not contrived) naturalism make ordinary behavior fascinating.” That naturalism is embodied in the accomplished performances of his actors, in particular Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen, who play a radiantly happily married couple in their 60s, and Lesley Manville and Imelda Staunton, who play two desperately unhappy women. But several critics remark that all of the performances Leigh draws from his actors are pitch-perfect. Writes Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times: “The people [Leigh] and his cast create in this joint venture combine depth and complexity with a kind of unstudied naturalism, so much the better to make audiences complicit in their lives.” To A.O. Scott in the New York Times the characters all bring to mind the questioning lyrics of Paul McCartney: “Where do they all come from? Where do they all belong?” It all makes for a “fully realized and superbly crafted” film, writes the Associated Press’s Christy Lemire, while Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News concludes, “In this wise, open-hearted picture [Leigh has] created the perfect haven from the cheap ironies and cruel indifference we all have to field both in life and, far too often, at the movies.”