This remarkably real and gut-wrenching film by Mike Leigh resonates with veracity; characters oozing pain, desperation, paralyzing loneliness balanced by those whose aptitude for normalcy, human decency is magnetically ethereal.
Lesley Manville is Mary an achingly functional alcoholic whose need for Gerri (a medical counselor), her coworker, and Tom (Gerri’s, engineering geologist husband) is as addictive as the white wine she guzzles with record breaking alacrity. The genius of Manville’s performance is the gradual diminishing of Mary’s likability to benign pity, eventual disgust; she is the cancer that spreads and kills the kindness, the tolerance given so generously by Tom, Gerri and their son Joe.
Jim Broadbent as Tom, and Ruth Sheen as Gerri give their portrayals divine dignity; they are the oasis, the island, the place in the sun that all want to bask in; their marriage vibrates with vitality and astounding depth; over thirty years of love, respect, jovial repartee; their union has become greater than the sum of its parts. They are nurturers; weekly jaunts to their land allotment (reminiscent of WWII Victory Gardens) yield luscious fruit, vegetables and flowers, unwaveringly shared with family and friends. Marcus Aurelius said “to live happily is an inward power of the soul”; rarely will an audience be privy, held captive by a partnership so joyous that it emanates and exemplifies the refinement, beauty and potency of a “match made in heaven”!
Supporting roles: Oliver Maltman as the enigmatic thirty- year- old son, Joe; Peter Wight is the corpulent, distraught, perpetually navigating a sea of inebriation, Ken; David Bradley, as the comatose, grieving Ronnie; Karina Fernandez, charmingly effervescent, Katie, all legitimately contribute to the solid worthiness of “Another Year”.