Cannes Critical Consensus: 'Another Year'
After unsaddling "Robin Hood" and being bearish on "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," reviewers at the Cannes Film Festival have found a prominent title to recommend: writer-director Mike Leigh's "Another Year."
Having won the festival's top prize in 1996 with "Secrets and Lies" (Leigh's "All or Nothing" and "Naked" also played at Cannes), the filmmaker's new movie is an ensemble story starring Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton about, well -- let the reviewers explain it all to you:
Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: "...when I say that I loved 'Another Year,' the Leigh film that just premiered at Cannes, members of the Leigh cult should consider themselves warned: The movie has precious little in the way of shrieking, didactic working-class sanctimony, or cheaply lovable over-the-top gags. What it does have is an overwhelming bittersweet melancholy at the passing of life from middle age into…well, I guess you could call it late middle age, but then you’d be falling into the self-deception shared by the movie’s characters, who will do anything to avoid the realization that the cold and nasty word for the condition they’re heading towards is…old. "
Jenny Barchfield, Associated Press:"'Another Year" ... looks at a group of middle-aged friends as they grapple with loneliness, love, loss and change over the four seasons of a single year. It's a tribute to the talent of the British director and his outstanding cast — including Leigh regulars Jim Broadbent, Ruth Sheen and Lesley Manville — that the film manages to be funny and charming despite its heavy subject matter."
Charles Gant, The Telegraph: "Initially, 'Another Year' appears to be another of those low-concept Leigh slice-of-life movies, emerging from his distinct improvisational method without a narrative hook or even much of a theme... But as spring passes into summer, autumn and winter, 'Another Year' increasingly declares its hand. This is a film about loneliness, in which a caring, considerate, loving couple cannot ever really know what it's like to lead a life of quiet desperation."
Ray Bennett, The Hollywood Reporter:"The veteran British director draws typically skillful performances from his cast of mostly regulars, and there are fine contributions from cinematographer Dick Pope and composer Gary Yershon. It's a sedate film without drama that festival juries could well fall in love with, but moviegoers might decide that their own brand of misery is quite sufficient, thanks."
Dave Calhoun, Time Out London: "Age, happiness and the passing of time are the themes that percolate movingly through Mike Leigh’s ‘Another Year’, his first film since 2008’s punchy, upbeat ‘Happy-Go-Lucky.' It’s a serious, meditative but powerful drama that explores a year in the life of a contented, endearing professional couple in their early sixties and the friends and family who cross their path. The mood is gently resigned, questioning but not accusing of its protagonists’ choices."
-- John Horn
Photo: Ruth Sheen and Jim Broadbent in "Another Year." Credit: Thin Man Films