As a movie observing how life goes on for its main characters over the period of five years, “Everyday” feels vivid and authentic. As watching one ordinary family dealing with a specific hardship imposed on them, you can feel the passage of time along with the small changes they go through, and the documentary-like approach of the movie adds another level of verisimilitude to their life story.
As a matter of fact, the movie was actually shot during a few weeks at a time from 2007 to 2012, and the resulting effect is not different from what we watched from Michael Apted’ great documentary Up series or Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy. The actors in the screen become really older along with their characters as we watch their small episodes one by one, and we become amazed or amused by how some of them have been changed since we began to observe them at the beginning.
The movie revolves around the daily difficulties Ian(John Simm), Karen(Shirley Henderson), and their young children have been facing since Ian’s imprisonment. A crime Ian committed is not explained well in the movie, but it seems he has been incarcerated for some misdemeanor(according to IMDB and Wikipedia, he was charged with drug smuggling), and it looks like he will be released after few years. You may say it won’t be long, but it does feel long to Ian and his family, and they always feel moody whenever the visiting time is over.
The movie does not delve into the details of Ian’s crime or how he thinks about it, but, through its non-judgmental view, we come to find Ian is a nice man who could have been a better dad to his children. Although the incarceration is certainly hard for him everyday, he mostly keeps a cheery face in front of his loving kids as they spend their small precious time together at the visiting room of the penitentiary, and his easy rapport with them shows his better sides to us. Maybe they had some rough times in their past, but it is apparent that Ian and Karen miss each other a lot as a husband and a wife, and there is a tender moment when Karen slightly violates the regulations to satisfy her lonely husband’s certain need.
As the time goes by, we see things getting better step by step for Ian while he is transferred to other cells or other prisons. The mood of the family meeting becomes brighter with more comfortable conditions, and, probably because of his good behaviors, Ian is later permitted to get out of the prison temporarily and spend a short time with his family outside. Leaving their children in a public park for a while, he and Karen enjoy a brief but sweet private time together in a small place.
But it is still hard for not only Ian and but also Karen and their kids. Without her husband, Karen has to support the household by herself, and we see her working as a supermarket employee and then as a bartender. The circumstance is not entirely gloomy; she earns enough money for her and her four children, and there is also some help from the people near her including a friend named Eddie(Darren Tighe).
Days and months and years pass as they move on, but they feel Ian’s absence everyday even though his release date is being closer to them. Elder son Robert(Robert Kirk) looks more sullen and more rebellious than before, and his younger brother Shaun(Shaun Kirk) fights with one of his schoolmates just because of what his schoolmate said about his father. Karen silently struggles with her accumulating loneliness, and we are not so surprised to see Eddie being around her and her children.
The director Michael Winterbottom, who wrote the screenplay with Laurence Coriat, did a very good job of capturing the glimpses of personal feelings inside his characters amid the mundane but realistic environment, and his performers hold our attention with their earnest performances. Shirley Henderson and John Simm convincingly immerse themselves into their respective characters, and we can always sense what they feel or think through their gestures and facial expressions. With her ever-haggard face, Henderson is well-cast as a struggling wife and mother who is both vulnerable and determined, and Simm is her equal counterpart as a likable guy who happened to do a wrong thing and is dearly paying for that.
As their four kids, Shaun Kirk, Robert Kirk, Katrina Kirk, and Stephanie Kirk, who are siblings in real life, remind me of how kids frequently marvel us through their growth. Shaun Kirk, the youngest one, is especially notable because of his considerable changes in appearance observed over five years; he is a cute little kid with round eyes when we meet him for the first time, and then we see him gradually resembling his older brother Robert as he grows up, and then he eventually becomes old enough to talk with his brother about the physical difference between male and female. These four young actors bring their natural bond between them to their characters, and they also look very believable with Simm and Hendersen as a family coping with problems.
Michael Winterbottom has been impressing me and others with the diverse attempts in his diligent filmography. While he made a disturbing film noir drama “Killer Inside Me”(2010), he also made a humorous road trip movie “The Trip”(2010), which has a funny conversation scene between its lead actors Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on how to imitate Michael Caine’s voice, and these two contrasting works of his were quickly followed by “Trishna”(2011), a modern retelling of Thomas Hardy’s novel “Tess of the d’Urbervilles” which is set in India.
“Everyday” is his another interesting attempt, and it is an experiment which is successful as well as interesting. Supported well by engaging performances, the movie sometimes becomes a little more relaxed and optimistic as accompanied with several beautiful outdoor interlude shots, and Michael Nyman’s score effectively conveys the sense of passing time along with a tentative sign of hope and optimism. This small movie eventually grows on us as an intimate and touching family drama in the end, and we are satisfied with several small slices of life served to us one by one – while hoping the best for them.