The power of this film creeps up on you by stealth; its dramatic idiom is admittedly mannered in the Leigh style but shy of caricature, and designed consistently to abrade the audience’s consciousness without irritating – fingertips down the blackboard, not fingernails. And, yes, still an acquired taste. But I found Another Year a deeply involving, intelligent, compassionate drama of the sort only Leigh can create.
And it is that element of ‘stealth‘ that I felt so deeply after viewing Another Year – if you’ll forgive the very 20th Century honesty – that it made me unable to stop crying: I was the last person to leave the cinema (in an attempt to stop crying); I closed my eyes while travelling back on the DLR (in an attempt to stop crying); I buried my head further into my shoulders while walking in an attempt to stop crying but couldn’t.
The film had snuck up on me and continued to do so – the denouement and the last scene are so utterly, beautifully, devastatingly true that I empathised with the characters of Mary [played so brilliantly by Lesley Manville, who I must briefly say shines as the most interesting character] and Ronnie beyond all else.
This is a subtle film, far less of a downer than it initially appears, though informed with a tragic sense of life. It rewards serious contemplation and, like all this director’s work, it seems to be catching life on the wing, when in fact it is as trained, controlled and graceful as a falcon.
It is this grace of the film – a naturally seasoned in its long tooth – that also lulls you into unexpected but very easy empathy. The cinematography is delicious yet simple, only essential and the character interactions are truly what make the thing vibrant.
Graceful but made real by its vibrancy.