Friday, December 21, 2012

Another Year (2012): review: 6/10

London: a suburban couple nearing retirement entertain friends and family: they are visited by a female alcoholic, brothers, their son and the son`s partner. We see their relationships change over the course of a year.

The film emphasises the importance of blood ties over friendship: this is cruelly illustrated in their unsympathetic treatment of their lonely alchoholic friend Mary when she arrives unexpectedly at their house. She is not really part of the family and her difficulties are coldly treated.

There are many unpleasant aspects to Mike Leigh`s films. One is with the female characters, who seem invariably in stereotypically female  "caring professions"". They are often frumpy, physically unattractive, given to fantasy, anxious, incapable and over-eager to please (here this is illustrated in a plot line about a used car which the unfortunate Mary buys, and which causes her a good degree of nuisance). They are ignorant and speak hideous English. This is conveyed in a mannered style of acting which seems to consist entirely of nervous tics and is grotesque to watch. In this particular film, the female caricature of Mary is contrasted with her opposite: the mother figure and a more emotionally stable black nurse who becomes pregnant.

Leigh`s treatment of vulnerable people is often mocking. There are two scenes in this film in which the characters make sexual advances: both are pitiful, and played in such a way as to invite the condescension of the viewer.

However, despite these moral shortfalls, the film conveys something about the selfish circles of family, and the rejection of outsiders when they place any sort of burden on family: it does so without too much obviousness.

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