Another Year is four seasons in the life of a happy couple while everyone else around them is unhappy. It’s a movie about ordinary life, and as such features simple scenes and sets in suburbia, and naturalistic dialog including a brilliant continuous shot of a conversation around a table, in which the actors really shine.
In his book Hollywood Worldviews, Brian Godawa argues that every story involves the concept of redemption, which he defines as “the recovery of something lost or the gaining of something needed.” I was reflecting on Another Year in terms of redemption – what did the central characters, Tom & Gerri, recover, or what did they gain? They were happy and they interacted with some friends and family and their marriage was stable throughout the seasons. How did they change?
Look for a moment at the story arcs of those around Tom & Gerri, and there’s a lot going on. Each character is dealing with their unhappiness, which they do (to varying degrees) with Tom & Gerri’s help. I wonder if Tom & Gerri’s year is more about the ‘redemption’ of those around them, rather than themselves.
Often times being family and friends doesn’t seem exciting and dealing with them can seem tedious, difficult and inconvenient. But maybe life isn’t always about our story or maximising our happiness. And maybe marriage is meant to be for something bigger than a couple’s happiness too.
And yes – Tom & Gerri’s names are the subject of a joke, even in the trailer: