Film4: Monday 21 September, 12.45am
Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen magnificent as Tom and Gerri (yes, they’re aware of the joke), an allotment couple whose serene contentedness contrasts sharply with their needy friends and family. Typically fine support from lonely Lesley Manville (a nervy blur of desperation) and lumpy Peter Wight (a heart attack waiting to happen) in Mike Leigh’s deceptively gentle ‘four seasons and a funeral’ comedy.
In the opening doctor’s office scene, Imelda Staunton is a scrunched up ball of repressed fury. “What would you say was the happiest moment of your life?” asks the GP. Staunton’s defeated: “What do you mean?” David Bradley as Broadbent’s monosyllabic brother Ron has a similarly funny-sad moment. “He was a lovely kid, full of fun,”says Sheen of Ron’s disagreeable grown-up son.
Bradley’s unconvinced: “Was he?” Aided by this impeccable ensemble cast, Leigh is illuminating yet again the quiet tragedy of life passing. Life’s unkind and people are funny. Vice versa, too, of course.