John Simm as Ian and Shirley Henderson as Karen. Click on the 'Play' button above to watch the trailer for Everyday.
June 7, 2013
We talk about Steven Soderbergh being an outrageously prolific genre-hopper, but now that he’s supposedly retired, might we turn the conversation to Michael Winterbottom? It feels as if a new film of his is out every other week, be it a collaboration with his favourite star, Steve Coogan, or a darker, dramatic tale like Trishna or The Killer Inside Me. His output is unequalled, and each picture an ambitious new venture. (Well, except for the Coogan flicks, which are always entertaining, yet feel like well trod territory.)
Everyday might be his most ambitious yet, even if it feels like his most modest. Shot over five years – between 2007 and 2012 – it tells of a wife struggling to deal with her husband’s imprisonment, and the aftershocks that reverberate through their household. Shirley Henderson plays Karen, the long-suffering wife of John Simm’s Ian. Over the course of the picture, we piece together what transpired and led to his incarceration.
Stephanie Kirk, Katrina Kirk, Shaun Kirk, and Shirley Henderson.
An old friend proves to be a temptation to Karen while her husband’s locked up. Ian endangers his chances of release by messing around with drugs. These conflicts are red herrings; dramatic punctuation marks to keep the narrative bobbing along. We don’t need them. I don’t say that to suggest they’re needless inclusions. Rather, Henderson and Simm are compelling enough, either on their own or in their brief snatches of time together, to keep us wondering just how this duo will last when there are no longer prison walls between them.
Siblings Shaun, Robert, Katrina, and Stephanie Kirk are equally remarkable as their children, conveying pain both external and internal as dad’s prison stay stretches on. Winterbottom, and co-writer Laurence Coriat, conceived the real-time filming of the project to make visible the passage of time on its actors. I’m not sure it worked quite as they had hoped – three of the kids seem to remain in youthful stasis – but, more significantly, the long-lasting relationships they must have built help to ease the kids into delivering unnervingly comfortable, natural, and devastating performances.
On a technical note, this was likely shot on a shoestring, and it looks like it. Michael Nyman’s gorgeous score, unfortunately, seems to exist mostly to mask the significant sound issues. The cinematography – attributed to five different DOPs – makes it feel like we’re peeking in on some rushes from a kitchen-sink documentary. That gritty, grainy naturalism doesn’t totally mesh with Nyman’s elegiac soundscape. But, if its inclusion was the solution to a technical snafu, I’m happy to give it a pass. Ultimately, little of the movie's power is lost.
Everyday plays the Sydney Film Festival June 11.