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The Globe and Mail

Another Year: Four seasons of humour and melancholy

A scene from Mike Leigh's Another Year.


Another Year

Mike Leigh (United Kingdom)

"Nothing is funnier than unhappiness" says one of the characters in Samuel Beckett's Endgame, which could almost serve as the tag line for Another Year, Mike Leigh's beautifully-balanced mixture of melancholy and humour, hope and empathy, as it follows a long and happily-married couple, Tom and Gerri (Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen), through the cycle of four seasons in a London suburb.

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While the progress of the four seasons is shown in couple's communal garden allotment, we dip into the lives of some of the less happy people in their orbit, Most vivid is Mary (Lesley Manville), a middle-aged secretary in Gerri's office, who dresses girlishly, flirts desperately, and has a bad habit of getting drunk and maudlin about her lonely life. Manville's performance, startlingly funny and heartbreaking, is the centrepiece here, but Leigh's script is delicately tuned to characters who go through the motions of interacting, while each is lost in his or her universe.

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