If you’re looking for an exciting, in-your-face plot, or action, or regular Hollywood drama, you have come to exactly the wrong place. As far as plot is concerned, nothing really…happens. Thankfully, due to the superb performances (which are superbly directed) by all of the actors, you’re never bored while you’re watching. The gardening projects, the idle chatter, the car troubles- every minute is a miniature disaster or adventure that is wholly relatable and absolutely real. You, reading this right now, could be any of these characters at that age; hopefully, you end up more like funny, self-effacing Tom or lovely, open-hearted Gerri than any of their friends, each with a story a bit less happy.
The wonderful part of the writing is that nothing is explained. There are several points where, in a film by anyone but Mike Leigh, a writer might try to give a little back story, so the audience is exactly up to par the whole time. Instead, Leigh simply keeps the pace moving, assuming you’ll twig the gist of it, and it makes you not a part of an audience viewing a film, but a part of this circle of friends. With simple conversational writing, Leigh has accomplished what every 3D producer has tried and failed to create: making an audience feel as though there is no screen, and that this is our life now.
At the end of the film, you will be left to draw your own conclusions as to the futures of these people. I was not particularly sad or happy, but I was surely enriched by adding these new friends to my personal life.