It seems that with each new film, Mike Leigh gives us a performance and a performer to add to the lexicon of great cinematic creations. Imelda Staunton was not widely known outside of the United Kingdom before Vera Drake
; Sally Hawkins won us over with whimsy in Happy-Go-Lucky
; and now there is Lesley Manville’s achingly desperate performance in Another Year
. Although this is more of a large ensemble piece than most of Leigh’s films, it is Manville who dominates the screen—no small feat for a movie that also features Jim Broadbent. While Leigh, the great English improvisational filmmaker, continues to showcase the real problems of realistic characters, Another Year
doesn’t have the oomph of his best work.