Gerri (Sheen) and Tom (Broadbent) are an aging English couple comfortable in their jobs, their love, and the quiet life they share. We see them in five extended sequences, each paired with a season, and meet the friends and relatives who bring their troubles and triumphs to their doorstep. Most prominent among them is Gerri’s co-worker Mary (Manville), a sweet but needy neurotic constantly teetering on the edge of personal disaster. In the course of the year, this small extended family will experience love, death, anger, reconciliation, and hopefully, in the end, a measure of peace.
Why we love it
Observing the existence of a contented older couple over the course of one year might not sound like the stuff of captivating cinema, but in Mike Leigh’s capable hands, it takes on the character of high drama and tragedy. This exceptionally well-plotted work doles out enough conflict to propel the movie, while never losing the sense that we are watching lives as they are actually lived. Broadbent and Sheen personify a settled, loving marriage without a trace of false sentimentality, while the Oscar-nominated Manville makes her character’s overwhelming loneliness palpable. Warm, touching and wise, this powerful yet subtle work reflects a gifted filmmaker working at the peak of his powers.