A look at four seasons in the lives of a happily married couple and their relationships with their family and friends.A look at four seasons in the lives of a happily married couple and their relationships with their family and friends.A look at four seasons in the lives of a happily married couple and their relationships with their family and friends.
Mr. Leigh has a history of making films without a script ... only broad based outlines for the characters. The actors then work to fill in the details of the individuals, which in turn, forms a story. This explains why the story does not follow the traditional arc. In fact, the story has no real beginning or ending. What we see are the interactions of people who are friends, relatives, co-workers, acquaintances and strangers.
The foundation of the film, as well as the foundation for most of the other characters in the film, is the happily married couple of Tom and Gerri, played by the terrific Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen. This is a couple who not only love and respect each other, but also enjoy being together. Their friends and family come in and out of their lives, but their bond is strong.
Key amongst this group is their friend, and Gerri's co-worker, Mary (Lesley Manville). Mary is someone we all recognize. She is single, not getting any younger, desperately trying to avoid loneliness (too often with a bottle), masking her fear through fake excitement, and latched onto the security blanket offered by Tom and Gerri's friendship.
When family friend Ken (Peter Wight) makes a move on Mary, she shuns him because of his lack of perfection. She always thinks she can do better. When she begins fixating on Tom and Gerri's son Joe (Oliver Maltman), we really feel her pain but just want to slap some sense into her. The relationships all take a hit when Mary shows up for dinner and is introduced to Joe's new girlfriend ... a wonderfully charming and talented Katie (Karina Fernandez). Mary acts the selfish fool and it drives a wedge between she and Gerri. There is even a line of dialogue earlier on ... never come between a mother and her son! Another character we are witness to includes the great Imelda Staunton as a depressed middle-aged woman who comes to Gerri for professional guidance. We also meet David Bradley as Tom's older brother, Ronnie, whose wife has recently passed.
All of these situations and personalities are balanced by Tom and Gerri as they provide a stable environment ... it's as if they are a fountain of sanity from which everyone wishes to drink. As an added touch, none of the characters are Hollywood beauties. Broadbent and Ms. Sheen would never be mistaken for Brad and Angelina. Rather they are more likely to look like someone you know ... and better yet, their characters live like people you WANT to know. So again I ask ... How dare he?
- Jan 30, 2011