Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Another Year and the Ring of Perfection

I talked about the movie Rabbit Hole last week and about how it doesn't have the ring of perfection, which is what I'm calling the sensation you get, like a ring in your gut, when a movie perfectly achieves what it set out to achieve. I want to talk a little more about the ring of perfection, what it is and what it isn't. It probably isn't the feeling you get from the most entertaining movie you've ever seen, or the one that was most enjoyable to watch. I'll be the first to admit I enjoy watching a lot of movies that I know don't have this quality that I'm talking about and actually aren't even any good, and that I often enjoy watching the ones that do have the ring of perfection far less. But the ones that have the ring of perfection are the ones I'm still thinking about days later, because they captured something, some human truth, in a perfect way, and that truth is haunting. A movie has to haunt you to have the ring of perfection.

Another Year is a movie that haunts, and thus achieves the ring of perfection. It's about a happy couple in their 60s and their interactions with their friends and relations, practically all of whom are far less happy. The happy couple seem like nice people but there is something a little sinister in their tendency to befriend miserables, almost as though it is their way of quietly gloating.

Now, I have a feeling that a lot of people who see Another Year won't like it, because it is about unremarkable people and unremarkable events. Indeed, superficially, it seems that nothing happens in this movie. And yet everything happens, as the movie draws the remarkable out of the unremarkable. Is it not remarkable, after all, that some otherwise unremarkable people are happy while others are hopelessly sad? That some are able to find the right partner before they have a chance to feel lonely while others struggle for decades and never get it right? That some are perfectly fulfilled while others are filled only with longing?

There is a Canadian author named Alice Munro, whom you probably have heard of if you are Canadian and probably haven't if you're not. Something that has been said of her short stories with which I would tend to agree is that you can get the gist of a character's whole life from the little bit she tells you about him or her. That is true of all the characters in Another Year as well.

I will say only one more thing about this movie. I talked about the importance of a good ending here, and the final few moments of Another Year are ones I will never forget. We need more movies like this one. Please see it.


  1. Cheers to finding substance in the alleged abyss ;)

  2. I love finding a movie like that. I'm like that about books, too. I read something regarding the book, "Let The Right One In," that I really loved.

    The person said that the book was the kind of novel that you had a fascination with, and you couldn't put down. You were thinking about it for days or even weeks after. But you wouldn't recommend it to friends because the book just feels too personal, almost. Like only certain people will understand why it's so special, and you don't want someone who doesn't "get it" to shatter your love for it.

    I hope that makes sense. : /

  3. It totally makes sense. I'll need to check out that book, since you've clued me in!