Janet (Imelda Staunton) is a depressed older woman suffering from insomnia and wants to get prescribed pills. When advised by a hospital’s psychiatrist Jerri (Ruth Sheen) to think about having more sessions with the latter, she say she does. She won’t even try to deceive Jerri and pretend that she’s found the solutions to her problems and she’s fine but instead she’s a closed clam.
Covering a year in its characters’ lives, Another Year, delves on Pavolvian traits and their effect on relationships and friendships. The wall Janet puts up against Jerri is an easiest way to end a relationship, but writer/director Mike Leigh‘s shows us the exact opposite of Janet with Mary (Lesley Manville). We first meet Mary as Jerri walks through her workplace, their work relationship seemingly harmless and normal, not too many attachments. She invites Jerri to a drink, and we finally get to see the real Mary. We’ll see, as she talks about saving up to buy a car, making everything about her. She opens up and brings up her life history after three glasses of white wine and start picking fights with Jerri’s husband Tom (Jim Boradbent) about his supposed hypocrisies in his environmental stance. How can the couple stay in a decade old friendship with someone they’re practically babysitting?
Mary brings up a fear within the audience that we might be Mary, the unfortunate outsider. She abuses her friendship with the couple without returning the favour by bringing a glass of wine and not finishing it, or asking ‘How are you’ back, or invite the couple up to her apartment even if it doesn’t compare to a house. Despite differences, Mary and Janet feel ashamed about themselves, which stop them from creating healthy relationships. Janet closes doors while Mary intrudes upon others so her friends doesn’t have to enter her space. The straw that breaks the camel’s back is her hostility towards the innocent Katie (Karina Fernandez), the couple’s future daughter-in-law. At the same time the couple then brings up a conundrum on how to become a good friend, as Leigh doesn’t show us alternatives other than being a non-burden and being a ‘nuisance’ as Jerri finally says about Mary.
I’m probably the only person who isn’t 100% sold on Manville’s performance, whose nervous ticks and hand gestures invade her own close-ups. Broadbent and Sheen’s roles aren’t showy, but their soft-sell condescension chills and might be missed by characters as daft or unintentionally insensitive as Mary. The last scene saves both Manville and Mary, experiencing the same problems, and the audience finally gets on her side. Her car problems do suck and yes, Katie is kind of annoying. Her problems are heavier, as her friends become unreachable.
Cameron Bailey announced the TIFF lineup highlights. I saw 11 last year, I would like to see 11 this year. But I only have at the most 80 bucks on my checking now. I get paid on Thursday, but most of that is going to OSAP.
Here’s a long list. I listed 22 because I believe in a .500 batting average. Foreign films jump to the front of the line. I love Americans, but I can wait to watch them by Christmas. Indicated in bold are stuff I really wanna see.
ph. TIFF/ TWC
Barney’s Version, Richard J. Lewis, Canada/Italy
Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky, USA
Casino Jack, George Hickenlooper, Canada
The Conspirator, Robert Redford, USA
The Housemaid, Im Sang-Soo, South Korea
The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper, United Kingdom/Australia
Little White Lies Guillaume Canet, France
Potiche, François Ozon, France
Another ,Year Mike Leigh, United Kingdom
Biutiful, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Spain/Mexico
Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance, USA
Brighton Rock ,Rowan Joffe, United Kingdom
Cirkus Columbia, Danis Tanovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina
It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden, USA
L’Amour Fou, Pierre Thoretton, France
The Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen Andrew Lau, Hong Kong
Love Crime, Alain Corneau, France
Miral Julian Schnabel, United Kingdom/Israel/France
Norwegian Wood, Tran Anh Hung, Japan
Rabbit Hole, John Cameron Mitchell, USA
Tamara Drewe, Stephen Frears, United Kingdom
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Woody Allen, United Kingdom/USA/Spain
You know Marianne Jean-Baptiste from “Without a Trace” but before that, she has played Hortense Cumberbatch in this great Mike Leigh film “Secrets and Lies.” There are drastic events thrown at her character’s life in the past two months. At one point she almost turns up as the depressed, obsessed girl who alienates her old friend, but she seems well-balanced and even cheerful for that. She’s pretty much the equivalent of Sally Hawkins’ Poppy in “Happy Go Lucky.”
Her smiles and goofy faces even pull up everyone around her, like Cynthia Purley, the screechy and mentally fragile woman who we’d find out is Hortense’s white mother. Played by Brenda Blethyn, she has her flaws but thankfully she’s more verbose than Imelda Staunton’s eponymous Vera Drake. She reluctantly meets the daughter she has given away, but her week nights with Hortense made her rise from her fragility to become an older woman of class.
The story culminates in a birthday celebration in the suburbs, and yes, it did feel awkward watching one secret pour after another, where one person sobbing triggers another, which made the scene seem both stage-like and real in one stroke.
There’s so many interesting things about this movie – how Cynthia’s rank bitch of a daughter Roxanne becomes strangely beautiful while she’s being vulnerable for the first time, how whoever cast Timothy Spall as the schlubby voice of sanity that he’ll be in half of his movies is a genius, how long takes are enjoyable with truthful dialogue, how it did work out that Hortense must be lost and regained than to never have been lost at all, how we realize that the portraits of the multicultural Britain get perfectly merged into a family after twenty or so years of struggle.
And there’s something glorious about this last shot. The sun shines on Cynthia. You can see Hortense’s face smiling even from that height. The backyard’s a little untamed but it’s the perfect place for a banal teatime.
And big digression here but just seeing this ultimate dysfunctional family, I just know that Mike Leigh should direct August: Osage County with a fuck off British cast.
I’m so emotionally exhausted from that movie now.