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A unique project, even by the standards of the ever-enterprising Michael Winterbottom, this family drama was shot over a period of five years to capture the authentic passing of time in a story about a husband and father seeing out a prison term.
Leading man John Simm’s features sharpen and grey flecks his hair as the days click by, yet the real purpose of the film is to see his four kids grow up before our very eyes – two boys and two girls, all real-life siblings – thus sharpening our sense of the irreplaceable moments he’s missing by serving his punishment.
Brief prison visits and day-release jaunts shape the narrative as Simm’s loving wife Shirley Henderson faces the combined burden of motherhood, work and loneliness, her struggles set against beautifully composed shots of the landscape round the clan’s rural home. Michael Nyman’s rousing score adds emotional underpinning to this delicate, compassionate study of the deep affections holding a family together in adversity. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)