Written and Directed by Mike Leigh
Starring: Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen, Leslie Manville
December, 2011
2hrs, 11 minutes

If there ever was a film that succeeded on great acting, great dialogue and an original idea, Another Year is it. I don’t remember a finer performance than Leslie Manville’s, who plays one of the most annoying characters to ever grace the screen with great charm and aplomb.

PLOT: Tom and Jeri (Broadbent and Sheen) are a blissfully- happy long-married couple, who spend much of their lives providing succor to their friends and family. Their happiness both attracts and hurts an assortment of friends. Especially needy is Mary (Manville), who deconstructs over the course of the film. Their son is equally at bay in their presence, having failed to find a mate. Now this is a complex idea: does the happiness of others make our own unhappiness worse. Also why does this couple seem to exclusively seek out people in such dire straits? Do they wish to share their happiness or do they take some pleasure in their superior position.

Often we think a novel would make a great film. Here is a film that would make a great novel. Leigh allows each scene to go on to the point of making his audience squirm. Most directors would make their point and move on. But here unhappiness is allowed to flourish—and it does. A running motif is the garden the pair tend. Like their friends, their pleasure in it seems excessive and self-satisfied.

I thought this was a very fine, if trifle long, film. I am not sure everyone would share my patience with it. Four of us saw it and all liked it—or at least professed to.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.