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Was this a film? Not quite sure about that. I liked it a lot, but maybe would be more inclined to call at a semi-experimental look into the psyche of torn family life. The family we observe is torn physically, as the father decided to do something very stupid, leading directly to jail, do not cross “start”. During the years he spends there, his wife has to deal with the consequences of his stupidity, she has to find a way to take care of their children (was it three? Four?) and her life. The husband has somehow the easy part in this, he sits in jail and waits to be visited frequently. On the phone he asks banal questions about how school was and what the kids got for Christmas. He is sitting it out, avoiding to get too personal or emotional about the whole situation, forcing his wife and their children to process the emotional impact of such a life.

Why is that experimental? Because director Michael Winterbottom (no need to praise him anymore here… he is just an astonishingly multi-faceted wizard!) viciously refuses to introduce a plot, or to allow situations to escalate, to make an impact on the next step of everybody’s life. Every day is a day, to be observed on its own, and he shows how you can do that, how stuff happens that could have grave consequences (the wife looks for emotions somewhere else, the husband is caught smuggling dope into the prison, the son starts despising his father), but they don’t, they balance out, the pendulum swings back and tomorrow today’s agitation is replaced by some other form of normality. Is that what the film is about? To provide evidence of Dostoyewsky’s notion that human’s prime characteristic is that they can get to used to everything? It would be a convincing case.

The actors, by the way are mostly splendid, judging from the credits this is an actual family.

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