UNRATED, 106 m., 2012

Shirley Henderson (Karen), John Simm (Ian), Shaun Kirk (Shaun), Robert Kirk (Robert), Katrina Kirk (Katrina), Stephanie Kirk (Stephanie), Darren Tighe (Eddie), Polly Kossowicz (School Teacher), Valerie Lilley (Grandmother), Peter Gunn (Shop Manager), Dylan Brown, Harry Myers. Directed by Michael Winterbottom and produced by Melissa Parmenter. Screenplay by Laurence Coriat & Winterbottom.

As a filmmaker, Michael Winterbottom has an obsession with all things realistic bordering on the religious/zealous. My favorite film of Winterbottom’s is Wonderland (1999), his hyperlink mosaic about three sisters, their significant others, their parents and their neighbors over Guy Fawkes weekend in South London.

For Everyday, Winterbottom takes some of the aesthetic elements of that wonderful film – a screenplay he co-wrote with that film’s scribe Laurence Coriat; performances by Shirley Henderson and John Simm; and a devout commitment to realism, all gorgeously scored to the insistent piano and strings of composer Michael Nyman – and adds a unique touch or two (the children of Henderson and Simm are played by four actual siblings, for example).

The most remarkable thing is that the film was shot over five years a few weeks at a time, lending a sense of physical (if not entirely emotional) continuity to the proceedings. This is appropriate as the film chronicles the holding together of a Norfolk, England family by a mother (Henderson) and her four children as their father (Simm) is sentenced to five years in prison for drug smuggling. The interest in such a social issue is furthermore a very Winterbottom-esque trope. This is not some trumped up, dramatization of these lives in this situation, but rather a sometimes painfully honest portrait of these characters at this particular point in time, in this particular situation. The kids seem to have it the roughest, getting into fights in school, crying at the long journey to visit their father in prison, and rebelling on the homefront.

The camera (often handheld, though mostly lacking the grainy, gritty 16mm fly-on-the-wall feel of Wonderland) follows these characters excruciatingly closely as they navigate this most difficult of situations. Winterbottom utilized five cinematographers (!) including his Wonderland cinematographer Sean Bobbitt (lately of Steve McQueen’s work as well as the forthcoming Spike Lee remake of Oldboy) and frequent collaborator Marcel Zyskind (24 Hour Party People, The Killer Inside Me, etc.). Despite this, the film is ostensibly consistent from an aesthetic point of view – one would be hard-pressed to identify particular sequences by who was photographing them, though some eschew the hand-held camera for Steadicam and, crucially near the film’s end, sudden and startling crane work. The result is a rare, intimate look at a family under rather dire circumstances, and a tribute to what it means to be a family.


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