by Andrew Robinson
Michael Winterbottom is, as was often said during a recent screening at TIFF, a highly prolific filmmaker. He’s made big to small, funny to shocking, and any other adjective you can attach to a film. With Everyday, he looks to tell a story of a family broken apart for five years when the family’s patriarch is locked up in prison. What makes it unlike similar films is that while it’s not narratively strong, it is an amazing emotional piece.
Everyday is primarily filled with scenes of Ian (John Simm) in jail on the days that his family visits him or when he is released on a furlough to see them at home. We are there for the moments when Ian gets to be a father, but we’re also there for the moments that he’s noticeably absent as the film spends time with his wife Karen (Shirley Henderson) and her children at home. It shows the passage of time in the most effective way possible, making the struggles of a virtually-single parent impossible not to focus on.
When a family is torn apart, there are many ways they can stay that way. Here, we get the ultimate display of sacrifice by Karen as she works on keeping her family together. It was never explained why Ian was sent to prison, but the fact that Karen is the one who’s working through this out in “the real world” makes the film feel much more like her story than it is his. It’s steeped in a highly romantic tone and it never leaves that, even with the character detours along the way.
Both inventive and dedicated, Winterbottom shot Everyday over a five-year period, which allows for the natural progression of the children’s and the parents’ aging process, as well as the development of their relationship, to come through in the film in a startlingly natural way.
Some of the most beautiful moments come from that filming technique. Thanks to it, he was able to have a lot of time with the actors (the children are non-professionals) and captured some truly touching tiny moments. At one point, during a furlough, Ian and Karen both leave their children in a park to eat some ice cream and enjoy some private time. Witterbottom chooses to cut to one of the children licking an ice cream to create a moment that leads to varying reactions of adorable, sweet disgust. The verite nature of this (and many other scenes) delivers a highly compelling rawness to the family’s world.
It would also be difficult to praise this film without mentioning the score from Michael Nyman. Throughout the movie its musical themes become progressively more and more blatant and eventually overpower the dialogue. The sound creates a feeling throughout without ever needing to have the dialogue audible. Some people may call it manipulative, but the film manages its content so gracefully that it’s a lot more hypnotic than anything else. It gives the film a hopeful note even with a lot of questionably indicators that we’ll be seeing a downtrodden climax.
The Upside: An incredible, loving film.
The Downside: Not sure there is one.
On the Side: Winterbottom is working on a new film starring Steve Coogan.
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Related Topics: Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)