Another Year was the perfect capture. It captured many experiences of London life perfectly; visiting a GP through the NHS, post-work drinks down the pub, dinner parties with many a bottle of wine consumed, the noise and damp within construction sites, the pleasure of one’s own allotment, the adventures and misadventures of London transport, the hassle of owning a car (and setting up insurance). In short, it captured many of my own experiences of London life. The characters felt real, the spaces and places felt real. There was even a scene shot literally down the road (across the bridge) from the studio I once rented in Fulham.
Of course, it was so much more than just a capture, but I can’t help being fascinated by Mike Leigh’s un-Hollywood depiction of interiors. He shows us the insides of flats and houses that the character could realistically rent/own. In Happy-go-Lucky, Sally Hawkins’ character lived in exactly the type of flat a teacher could afford. And the same is true of the central character in Career Girls. There are many reasons Hollywood veers away from this kind of ‘realism’ when it comes to sets. One of them is that it is genuinely difficult to shoot in small space, to capture it. But this doesn’t deter Leigh. And this kind of capture encourages me, as the viewer, to engage more intimately with the characters, as though they really are people I know or have known. Equally, his capture of the character of London encourages us to engage more intimately with place. His sense of place and space are enthralling to my architectural lens. Another Year also captured perfectly the essence of London’s climate. It takes as its context the four seasons. Given my own deep interest in the seasons, it was a pleasure to see the four seasons away from a canvas, in the form of film. I am currently working on a flipbook of the four seasons. It will be a different type of capture. I look forward to finishing it, but even more than that I look forward to seeing what Mike Leigh casts his net over next.