Another Year

Mike Leigh's films are one of a kind. They're artful gifts of observation, humor and bruised humanity. Another Year is up there with the best of them. The script covers four seasons in the life of one British couple, Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen). They'd like to see their lawyer son, Joe (Oliver Maltman), find the right woman. That doesn't mean Mary (Lesley Manville), Gerri's co-worker. Mary drinks as hard as she chatters and flirts outrageously with the much younger Joe. Out of a script developed over months with his cast, Leigh creates a universe we can all find a place in. All the actors are sublime. But Manville shines brightest. Never more lonely than when she's trying to hide it, Mary still musters the courage to fight being reduced to a joke. Just watch the magnificent Manville, in a raw and riveting award-class performance that exposes a grieving heart under siege. Her last scene is quietly devastating. So is this intimate miracle of a movie.