The One- to Cure Commitment-Phobia

Article excerpt

Byline: Jennie Yabroff

Tom and Gerri are happily married. How you take that statement--with a disinterested shrug or a disbelieving sneer--probably predicts how you'll react to this utterly ordinary, yet quite extraordinary film.

Nothing monumental happens in Mike Leigh's examination of a year in this British suburban couple's lives. They tend their plot in a community garden, entertain unhappily unmarried friends, worry about their adult son, go to work, and come home and make dinner. Over the course of the year there will be a birth and a funeral, but neither serves as a pivotal plot point.

Aside from the wonderful performances by Leigh regulars Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, and Ruth Sheen, the film will stay with you for what it doesn't do. Most movies (and plays, and books) about longtime relationships assume the longevity of the partnership comes at a bitter cost: along the way a compromise has been struck about an affair, a drinking problem, or a general lack of passion, and the couple in question has learned to live with diminished expectations and muddle through the best they can. …