Sometimes it’s difficult to describe the richness of a movie when nothing particularly interesting happens in the plot. This movie is an example. “Another Year” is a glimpse of the everyday lives of Gerri (played by Ruth Sheen) and Tom (by Jim Broadbent) who are happily married and have lived a very comfortable English suburban life together for many years. Their leisure time is spent in their much loved allotment and they are very content with their ordinary lives. We meet the couple in Spring and observe their lives through four full seasons.
Gerri is a professional counsellor and Tom is an engineer/geologist. Their contentment is only distracted by the intrusion of their range of friends, colleagues and family who descend on them to share their problems and try to absorb some of Gerri and Tom’s goodwill. Gerri and Tom always feel that they need to “be there” for their friends to help them through each of their seemingly unending crises. The main interruptors are Mary (by Lesley Manville) who is Gerri’s colleague and a good friend – she is single, lonely, drinks too much and always goes too far when she’s had too many – she can be cringe-worthy; and Joe,(by Oliver Maltman), he is also single, also lonely and the reluctant recipient of Mary’s flirtations. There are other friends and family who go through their own trials and challenges during this year – apart from knowing Gerri and Tom, the one thing they all have in common is that they all seem to live in some state of unhappiness.
The movie is good because you will no doubt recognise the issues, personalities, scenarios and the relationships played out here – in some way. Tom and Gerri (yes …) are just the kind of people you know do really exist just over your back fence and the story is real – sometimes funny, sometimes it gives you a warm glow, sometimes you feel empathy and other times irritation at the pathetic situations you are spectator to. The acting is great, well done to everyone for several enjoyable and believable characters. My favourite character – the pathetic and fragile Mary – it is a wonderful performance by Lesley Manville.