Another Year (Blu-ray) (2010)

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Released 24-May-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 129:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Mike Leigh
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Jim Broadbent
Lesley Manville
Ruth Sheen
Oliver Maltman
Peter Wight
David Bradley
Martin Savage
Karina Fernandez
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $49.95 Music Gary Yershon


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Another Year is the most recent film from English director Mike Leigh. The champion of the modern British "kitchen sink" drama, Leigh last brought out a film in 2008, the relatively sunny Happy-Go-Lucky. Those who know and revere Leigh will find him at the top of his form with Another Year. For those who aren't acquainted with the master, he generally workshops his actors for a lengthy period and turns the ideas into a shooting script. For this reason his films tend to be character studies often without a great deal of plot development.

     The cover image for Another Year is a mighty tree. The tree of the film is the couple Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen). Gerri is a counsellor for troubled Londoners whilst Tom is a geologist working on redevelopment of the London sewers. They are the central stable force whilst around them a series of depressed and tired friends circulate. The tree image is also divided into four colours of leaves representing the four seasons of the year into which the film is divided.

     Their son Joe (Oliver Maltman) is an unmarried man in his early thirties, working as a lawyer to the poor, solving their tenancy problems. Gerri's workmate Mary (Lesley Manville) is a divorcee who is getting older by the minute. The more she tells people how she is happy the more pitiful she becomes as she slides into alcoholism. Meanwhile Tom's old college mate Ken (Peter Wright) is an overweight drunk who hates his job and his life.

     Not the best recipe for a Friday night video but Another Year, like so many of Leigh’s films, is an achingly acute study of the lower middle and working class Brits sliding through their lives with profound discontent as a constant companion. Lesley Manville received numerous awards for her performance and was Oscar buzz material. Like her character she missed out and slipped quietly out of contention! The film did get a nomination for the wonderful script, so full of little moments and miscommunications.

     The film is really about the performances and everyone in the cast from the leads to the smallest players is a finely etched performance. Special mention goes to Imelda Staunton who provides a perfect opening as an organically depressed woman and David Bradley (Argus Filch of Harry Potter)as Tom's brother Ronnie, devastated by the loss of his wife. The scenes between him and Mary are almost unbearably sad. Those who love Mike Leigh and can handle the downbeat nature of this bittersweet drama will find another remarkable achievement in Another Year.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Another Year was shot on 35mm film and projected in the cinema at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for the Blu-ray.

     It would be fair to imagine, with the low budget and downbeat subject matter, that this would be a dull looking film. Not so. The image is sharp and the colours bright and strong. The flesh tones are accurate and the level of detail in the faces, so important to conveying the subtle avalanches of emotion, is exceptional. There are no technical defects with the transfer. The blacks are deep and convincing.

     There are subtitles in English for the Hearing impaired which give a good account of on-screen action.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The Blu-ray of Another Year carries two High Definition soundtracks. Both are English 5.1 - one is a DTS -HD Master Audio and the other a True HD. Once again it surprises me that Icon put two virtually identical tracks on one Blu-ray when the DTS track can default to a lesser track for those who don't have the ability to decode the High Definition audio. On this occasion, due to the lack of extras it does not present a problem but since each track takes up a good deal of space I could imagine a situation where the video quality was compromised due to the need to make room for the two audio tracks. Anyway, both tracks do a fine job of conveying this film.

    No one would ever expect a Mike Leigh film to have sonic fireworks and there are none on display here. The all important dialogue is perfectly rendered. The surround sound doesn't have much to do and the sub-woofer is hardly used.

     There is a nice clarity to the music by Mike Leigh regular, and theatre composer, Gary Yershon. The guitar and string themes here are plaintive and memorable.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are no extras on this Blu-ray. Not a cracker. I had a look like Mary on my face when I realised the absence!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     According to reliable sources the Region A Blu-ray has the following extras:

     Why are they not on the local release? Why would Region A viewers (the Blu-ray is apparently locked) demand more in the way of extras than Australian viewers. The Blu-ray has been released in France in a similar stripped format. Oddly, the Blu-ray supplied for review suggests that it is All Region. For High Definition fans, like myself with All Region Players, then the Region A is the best option.

Summary

     Another Year is another fine addition to the canon of Mike Leigh's dramas. At times it is almost unwatchably sad as a parade of damaged, perhaps irreparable, lives flow past Tom and Gerri.

     The Blu-ray looks and sounds exceptional. The lack of extras is a major disappointment.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Friday, August 05, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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