The solace of a family...
...and the demise of the lonely in old age
|“Change is hard, isn’t it?” This is offered as consolation to a depressed and uncommunicative counselling client in the opening of Mike Leigh’s latest film ‘Another Year’. The film follows an almost too perfect, too stable couple through another year as they approach old age. Both have fulfilling jobs, a comfortable home, a well adjusted grown son who likes spending time with them, and who even helps them out in their allotment where they work side by side growing their own vegetables. Everything would seem to be in place. In stark contrast to their perfect life are their long term friends, who have clearly seen better days. They find themselves ageing and alone in the world, drinking and smoking too much, and watching yet another year pass by with less and less to feel positive about. Then there’s the brother, who’s just lost his wife who he perhaps did not really get along with anyway, and his estranged and angry son. The supposed ‘golden years’ are not far off, yet unlike the perfect couple, the rest look more likely to shuffle into their old age swathed in a dreary shade of grey. Unlike so many contemporary British films which are made according to the standard, easily palatable, Hollywood formula, the films of Mike Leigh have always been much more domestic in pitch. The tempo, dialogue, and aesthetic of Leigh’s films offer little in the way of polish and a lot in the way of down to earth ‘reality’. They are not necessarily meant to entertain, but rather offer an often extremely spare and gritty portrait of the dismalness or mundaneness of life. Though Leigh has in the past used this approach to great effect – ‘Secrets and Lies’ (1996) and ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’ (2008) are two very different yet equally successful achievements in his brand of film realism – there were moments during ‘Another Year’ where I found myself wishing for more. Wishing for someone to say something, anything, of substance. On more than one occasion I felt that pang of annoyance you get when sitting on the bus behind two people who are talking incessantly and inanely for the entire journey about nothing at all. It was realistic, indeed – there was ample talking, pleasantries and pointless exchanges aplenty – but there was often simply nothing meaningful to listen to, and more importantly little to allow the characters much depth. |
With that said, there were some touching moments, especially towards the end of the film where the characters actually involved themselves emotionally, and had some meaningful interactions. Indeed, I have been left with some lingering impressions from the film’s more thoughtful passages. In the end, however, I am not entirely clear what message the film is hoping to leave you with. The well functioning couple sit in the centre of this film, content but somewhat dull, while their youthful son finds love (and looks set to follow a similarly content but dull path), and their age contemporaries drift into loneliness, depression, and low level alcoholism. Time passes, but for the most part things stay pretty much the same. Change is hard? Certainly. And though the lucky few may have found someone they genuinely like to spend the passing time with, for the rest it is exactly a lack of change that is the hardest thing of all.
|Bewertung:||* * *|
8. Oktober 2010
Labels: Another Year