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Movies Review

Cannes 2010: 'Another Year'

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Another Year
Released on Saturday, May 15 2010

Cannes has been kind to Mike Leigh. He took home the Best Director prize in 1993 for Naked, then did even better three years later, receiving a Palm d'Or victory for Secrets & Lies. This year the venerable Brit is screening in competition with Another Year, a deeply moving drama starring regulars Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen as a married couple in their 60s whose highs and lows are charted over the course of 12 months.

Tom and Gerri have a son, Joe (Oliver Maltman) and an extended family that includes their friends Mary (Lesley Manville) and Ken (Peter Wight). Their story delicately sweeps through the gamut of human feeling, resulting in a considered movie that expertly spins humour, sadness, friendship, love and joy. Mary is the catalyst for much of Another Year's drama and emotion. She's an effervescent chatterbox, but her outward attitude is a tracing-paper thin cover for a loneliness and longing that lie below the surface. Her marriage didn't work out, so she looks on at Tom and Gerri with envy and even instigates a misguided attempt to start a romantic relationship with Joe. Manville is superb as Mary, conveying the character's fragility with subtlety and poignancy. She invests her heart and soul into what could be a career-defining role, and one that's almost certain to garner her an Oscar nomination next year.

Another Year leans further towards the upbeat nature of Happy-Go-Lucky than Leigh's grittier work, but he's not quite ready to make the leap into feel-goodery yet. The film's final segment - 'Winter', shot with starker colours than the three preceding it - deals with death and its messy aftermath. This is an extraordinary film about ordinary people and life's little problems.



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