A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this satisfying, emotionally complex drama from acclaimed British filmmaker Mike Leigh (Vera Drake, Happy-Go-Lucky) focuses on the lives and troubles of middle-aged characters (the youngest is 30), so it's unlikely that teens will be very interested. But if they are, there's not too much age-inappropriate content to worry about -- In fact, the only significant concern is the characters' frequent drinking; most is social, but one main character relies on alcohol as somewhat of a crutch. Beyond that, expect a bit of uncomfortable flirting and infrequent strong language (including sparing use of "f--k" and "s--t").
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What's the story?
Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen) are a lovely older married couple living in London and spending time working in their allotment garden. Over the course of one year (divided into four seasons), they entertain various friends and family members in their home, including their son, Joe (Oliver Maltman), who breaks a long dry spell by meeting a new girlfriend; Ken (Peter Wight), an overweight working stiff who drinks and complains too much; and Mary (Lesley Manville), a nervous, needy secretary who also drinks too much and flirts uncomfortably with Joe. Some of these characters look forward to new futures, some old wounds are opened, and some hard lessons are learned.
Is it any good?
On several subtle levels, this is a very accomplished movie. British director Mike Leigh is famous for his working methods, in which he develops his screenplays with the input and improvisation of the actors. It seems to work; he usually ends up with emotionally rich, dramatically complex movies with memorable (and sometimes funny) characters. ANOTHER YEAR is no exception.
That said, there's a bit of a lack of a clear central character. Tom and Gerri are the anchoring characters, and everything revolves around them, but Mary is the most prominent character and the one with the biggest dramatic arc (and, notwithstanding Manville's extraordinary performance, she's not particularly likeable).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the drinking in this movie. When Mary and Ken drink, they do it almost quickly and furiously. Why are they drinking, and what does it accomplish for them? What messages does the movie send about alcohol? What about the consequences of drinking?
What is the secret of Tom and Gerri's successful marriage? Can you think of other movies that portray positive, happy marriages?
Is Mary redeemed at the end of the movie? What has she learned over the course of the story?
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