An unsettling portrayal of dreams being eating away like a gnawing terminal cancer. Another Year’s riveting portrayals by a dream team of British actors meticulously reveal the simple struggles of a lives veered off course. Tom and Gerri, with their placid, Zen-like existence, play the foil and frame to the array of distraught characters watching their dreams erode. In contrast, they live their own dream life of caring, affection, and stability are a refreshing antidote for the Hello magazine lifestyle porn Hollywood infuses into so many of its productions.

Of all the characters that filter in and out of their lives, Mary is the most central keeping a constant presence. Her dreams here are not about owning a mansion or a yacht, but merely having a place of ones own, a holiday and someone to talk to. She works hard, bubbles with personality and despite all her knocks maintains an upbeat ‘glass half full’ outlook. She fuels her dreams with expectant milestones – everything will be fine…when I meet someone, when I get my own car, when I pick up stakes and ‘start over again’. But the final frame of the movie says it all…that she, perhaps, is just starting to realize. That her case is without cure. No turn will give her a ‘fresh start’.

Why would one want to sit through such an deflating deterioration of dreams? For one, to provide perspective which is one of the key qualities of embracing failure. Any one depressed by the erosion of their lofty and material dreams, might see new inspiration from the simpler achievements and constancies in their life through the lens of Another Year.

Another Year doesn’t offer any prescriptions for terminally ill dreams, but it does provide a rich examination into their progression. All of the characters are charming ‘good people’. You immediately warm to every one. They are not suffering as the comeuppance of any ill-will or bad deed. Some decay through bad choices, other bad lifestyle, and many times through just plain old bad luck. As Janet says at the outset, “I want a new life.” Unfortunately, this is the only one we are given.