Hello there

Jim Minton is a new writer of fiction, based in London but raised in the North East of England. On this website you can read his published works, which are mostly - but not all - darkly funny tales of growing up in Northumberland. You can also find out about Undertone, his new novel and read more about Jim, if you wish. All works are his copyright. So you can't pretend they are yours, even if you want to!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Another year - another travesty

I went to see Another Year, the Mike Leigh film that is getting rave reviews, at the weekend. I have to say, it was very, very disappointing. The central idea - that there is this perfect, guardian reading nuclear family in suburban London, living an ideal to which every one should not just aspire, but should be utterly dependent on - is pretty distasteful. The family's treatment of their "friends" is patronising in the extreme: Mary ALWAYS has to come to their house. Do they ever visit her? She is treated with stage-whispered mockery while she is allowed into their world, and the moment she expresses disappointment at her treatment - led up the garden path by the preposterously uptight son, then dumped for a younger model - she is frozen out of the circle and told she needs counselling. Some friendship. Northerners are seen as crude, inarticulate drunks; outside of London is a backward place, where people are poor, living in bare unfurnished homes, with no relationships with each other. The funeral scene was appalling in this respect. The bereaved were treated as bit part players, shuffling, inarticulate losers or brutish northern thugs, while the "nice" London family took over the whole thing organising it with as much emotion as they might have sorted the harvesting of their tomatoes. When Tom shook the hand of the vicar, and said "lovely service", I wanted to be sick. Why on earth didn't Leigh create some tension, some imperfection in them? Some sense that others had rights to opinions, to ways of living, to relate to each other in ways that were beyond the world of counselling, allotments and arrabiata sauce. Another Year is a genuinely frighteningly conservative piece of work in my view.