Another Year, Another Mike Leigh Pic

4 Apr

Another Year MovieI complained bitterly about being made to watch a movie called ‘Happy Go Lucky’ some time ago, and I unfortunately bought tickets tonight to a critically acclaimed movie, which turned out to be by the same director. It was almost the same movie as the sadistically irritating ‘Happy Go Lucky’ too, except that instead of featuring young Mancusian schoolteachers, it featured old Londoner gardeners, and was less annoying to a predictable degree.

While ‘Happy Go Lucky’ was a study of work-a-day bubble-headed cheerfulness, ‘Another Year’ is a drab and plotless examination of garden-variety loneliness. With every critic fawning over this film, I feel a bit like the child in The Emperor’s New Clothes, asking whether there’s anything there. The characters are involving enough, but the handing of the material feels shallow, artless and ham-fisted in comparison with polished pieces such as The King’s Speech. The writer-director, Mike Leigh, tries to capture moments of everyday life, which in ‘kitchen-sink’ England means lots of ashen-skinned people being glad that it’s not raining and sad about everything else. And then they drink lots of wine and say pointless things like ‘for my sins’ a lot. ‘Another Year’ successfully captures the lack of pace and unedited feel of daily life, and yet strangely Leigh cannot avoid making it seem artificial.

Highlights of the film included an interminable sequence in which Leslie Manville puts on a painful slurred-drunkenness act, and a dinner with a character called Ken who had clearly been directed to talk with his mouth full, because no matter when the camera catches him nor how much he’s concurrently drinking or seeming to swallow, there is always a chunk of food in the left cheek.

A clumsy, awkward, slow, ragged and annoying film.

But still miles better than ‘Happy Go Lucky’.

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