The other day, I watched Another Year, a film from the UK that was screened during the 2010 Cannes film festival. It was on my shortlist of films to see when I was in Nantes but I didn't see it then so I'm glad I got to see it in my own home town (in Version Originale !). I'd forgotten everything I read about it before (a good thing) and so I had no idea what to expect. For some reason I thought it was a comedy but it wasn't at all. It was a very real drama movie. So real it almost felt like a documentary about the lives of a middle-aged couple and their relatives and friends.
I have to admit the film was rather painful to watch. 'Painful' is the most apt word I can think of to describe it because I could really feel for the character of 'Mary' (played by Lesley Manville). At the beginning of the film we see her talking about her single status and life and loving it but we see later that this is not the truth...
Her colleague and friend Gerri (Ruth Sheen) is her confidante and indeed, Gerri (and her husband Tom (Jim Broadbent)) seem to be a good friend and confidante to everyone around them.
The film is presented in 4 sections - spring, summer, autumn, winter (hence the title 'Another Year') and in each section it focuses on a particular person or people, with Tom and Gerri (haha) as the ones who are always there and try to listen and help.
I think the movie depicts very accurately the emotions that each character feels, even the one we see in the first scene of the film (who is not really a character in the story but does add to it). We see Tom and Gerri, the perfect couple with a great marriage, a nice home, good incomes and jobs, widely travelled contrasted against Mary the 40-something divorcee with no home of her own, no car, no partner, no children and no money to travel. And ever so desperate. We pity her. We also end up pitying the other characters in the film who have lost their way on the path to a happy and fulfilling life.
After I went home I read all the comments on imdb (as I usually do after watching a film) and a lot of people did not like it, stating it was unrealistic and boring. The people I watched it with didn't quite like the film either and found it too long and I heard others in the cinema say it was too sad and depressing. Someone took the film to mean if you're a couple you'll be happy in life and if you're single you'll be miserable and depressed. Maybe that was the message of the film, maybe not. I have to say - spoiler alert (highlight to read) that there really isn't an ending to the film.. it's just one of this films where afterwards you go home and think about the messages in it...
Yes, it was kind of sad and depressing to watch but I found it to be a very realistic portrayal of real life with its highs and lows. I get the feeling it's the kind of movie you can relate to better the older you are. I can imagine all the younger people not really understanding what the movie is about at all.
All the main actors were absolutely amazing in their roles. I could not fault them at all. I noticed that they did not pick stereotypically good-looking actors but ordinary-looking ones to make them appear like people you know. Your parents, your friends, your colleagues, your neighbours... to make it all seem more like real life.
If you like 'slow' realistic arty films I'd highly recommend this but if you want a happy movie or one with special effects, skip it.
On another note, it was 'fun' to watch it in VO with French subtitles and learn how certain words or phrases are translated. I noticed a lot of sayings/idioms could not be translated and they just tried to get the same meaning across. I also learnt a new (colloquial) word for clothes: fringues. Never heard this one before. Added it to my fashion vocab list.
Trailer/Bande annonce with subtitles in French:
(image from here).