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We, the Living: Mike Leigh’s “Another Year”

We, the Living: Mike Leigh's "Another Year"

In Mike Leigh’s Another Year, four seasons come and go, characters arrive and depart, produce ripens and rots, everything and nothing changes. There’s such weariness in that title. Living is shadowed by dying, bounty is turned over by hunger, loneliness is assuaged by company. People can’t go on, yet they still do. They fret through Sunday night to board the train on Monday morning.

Of a piece with Leigh’s films past yet more formally ambitious, his latest works on the level of closely observed portraiture but also as cinematic fugue and metaphysical lament. It begins with a lonely middle-aged woman isolated in the frame and ends with another woman similarly solitary. Neither is actually alone—other characters sit just outside of the image’s boundaries—but by singling them out Leigh’s camera serves as a blunt weapon of articulation. Another Year is bound to alienate viewers who already feel that Leigh’s characters lean toward caricature, and to reward those who see in those potentially cringe-inducing portraits a true refraction of human behavior. Read Eric Hynes’s review of Another Year.

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