Another Year just played at Bayou Bijou at the University of Louisiana. Next week is Biutiful, a Mexican film about Latin Americans, dealing with social dynamics and personal crisis in their lives. Shows are only on Mondays, 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets: $3
Another Year is the kind of movie where you can really have two distinct perceptions of the movie. The movie was a close up of a British older couple approaching retirement and their lives surrounding their friends, family and work associates. The Director would like you to believe that the elderly couple are Saint-like. However, this Examiner doesn’t see that at all. Perhaps, Mary seems a little too familiar.
The first take on the movie shows a happy elderly couple, content in their long time marriage going about the business of living quietly, obscurely but compassionately. They have just one son who is 30, single, a lawyer but they aren’t worried about him one bit. He’s “stable just like they are.” Gerri is a counselor. However, she and her husband have a tendency to counsel their friends as well. They are compassionate, stable and appear to be magnets for people with problems. They have two single friends who visit them. The male friend, Ken, is overweight, drinks too much and confides to his stable married friends that he has nothing to look forward to in retirement; his job is the only thing that he has. Their other frequent friend “Mary” is also single, looks and acts younger than her age, but she too drinks too much and frequently stays over at their house when she over indulges. Mary has been their friend for over 20 years and they refer to her as “Aunt Mary” on occasion.
Mary is like a breath of fresh air in comparison to the staid couple. She brings energy into the room and her flighty actions and behaviors bring smiles to the faces around her. As a single woman, Mary frequently goes over her options with her friends as she values their opinions. Does she have enough money to go on Holiday? Does she have enough money to buy a car? She discusses these things with her friends, the couple Gerri and Tom. Gerri and Tom attempt to set Mary up with another single friend, Ken, but this turns out badly. Mary “bristles” when Ken even tries to sit beside her. Later, when he makes a pass at her she is very direct in dissing him. “I just don’t feel that way about you Ken.” This directness in the movie only happens twice.
However, before long, the viewers watch as Mary flirts with Gerri and Tom’s son, Joe. At first it’s embarrassing when Mary sits in between Joe and his Mom, Gerri. Joe attempts to “lean the other way in attempting to get away from Mary.” The Mother, Gerri, says nothing and appears to be oblivious as to what is going on. At this point in time you begin to think of Mary as a cougar and you wait to see what will happen next.
Mary does her best to try and talk to Joe. Without his mother around, he appears to flirt with Mary and they banter back and forth together easily. As there is quite a gap in age, between 15 and 20 years, you doubt anything would happen here but you wait and see. Mary invites Joe to call her and though he agrees, he never calls. It appears Joe has inherited his Mom and Dad’s ways.
In the next season, Gerri and Tom have a little get together with Mary and Joe’s new girlfriend. Mary’s face is so expressive. You can easily tell that she is so disappointed in this new girlfriend entering Joe’s life. She makes a few comments that weren’t friendly towards Katie but wouldn’t be considered nasty by American standards by any means.
A season passes and Mary is disheveled knocking on Gerri’s door. They have taken in another “lost soul”, Tom’s brother Ronnie. His wife has died and he’s very detached and depressed. Mary talks her way into Gerri’s house and visits with Ronnie. Mary likes Ronnie and though he’s kind of the Clint Eastwood type, “yes and no”, Mary fills in the conversation by chattering away.
When Gerri and Tom arrive, their demeanor is totally different. They are now “putting up with Mary” and “talking behind her back.” Gerri confronts Mary and asks why she didn’t call. She completely ignores Mary’s disheveled appearance. Mary apologizes to Gerri for not calling then cries and hugs her friend tight. Mary says she misses her friend and hasn’t seen her for five months. She doesn’t understand why they aren’t close anymore. Gerri stands there unmoved. They “allow” Mary to stay for dinner. At dinner, they talk to their son and his new girlfriend, chattering away about their fascinating lives completely ignoring the two lost souls sitting besides them, Mary and Ronnie. Mary’s face was completely sad and confused at the end of the movie.
The director has tried to display the married couple as being “happy” but where was this happiness? Why didn’t they have more stable friendships with married people more like themselves? By associating themselves with “lost souls” it appears it made their own lives a little brighter in comparison. Once Gerri and Tom had another “lost soul” to focus on and another “happy bright person” (Katie) in their lives, they really didn’t need Mary anymore. They could finally show their true feelings for Mary by ignoring her, talking about her behind her back and even making fun of her. Mary had that look of pain on her face when she realized she’s just been used and is not needed any longer. Perhaps Mary and Ronnie hooked up. Perhaps Mary ended up poisoning her ghastly friends.
Get the DVD at Barnes and Nobles,.Best Buy, Target or your local Blockbuster. Did the Director succeed at confusing the viewer and wondering if Tom and Gerri were these compassionate souls or truly ghastly friends? Weigh in.
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