Two years ago when 'Happy-Go-Lucky' was released in the United States, I got the opportunity to interview writer-director Mike Leigh via telephone for the film. Although it produced a fairly entertaining interview for readers, the ten minutes it took to do the interview ranked among the most difficult of my career, thanks in no small part to Leigh's notoriously articulate, if equally cantankerous personality. Leigh not only fought tooth and nail not to break down or reveal his creative process, but contradicted and corrected my questions as I mostly unsuccessfully tried to get inside the mind of one of the best filmmakers in the world. Suffice it to say, when I was offered the opportunity to sit in a room with him for 45 minutes to talk about his latest film, 'Another Year,' I said yes immediately.
'Another Year' tells a singular and yet amazingly recognizable story, following a married couple throughout a single year as various friends, relatives and colleagues enter and exit their orbit. Although Leigh aggressively declined the chance to analyze the process by which he developed and made the film, he remained remarkably engaging as he offered insights into his collaborations with his actors and fellow filmmakers, observed the shortcomings and opportunities of being a director largely uninvolved with commercial moviemaking, and highlighted the reasons why he feels that asking about his artistic choices and inspirations is not rewarding for him, much less for readers of interviews like this one.