Everyday should be a moving portrayal of a family separated by a convict father spending five years in jail. It should also be incredibly real as Michael Winterbottom shot it over five years, a few weeks at a time. However, the presence of the bloody awful score leaves it feeling empty, despite the excellent performances from John Simm, Shirley Henderson and their four children. Having sat through so many films without a score, it would have been nice to have something with a really lovely one. But it just didn’t deliver, and not only that, it ruined what would have been a brilliant film otherwise.
John Simm and Shirley Henderson do a wonderful job as the couple separated due to Simm being in jail. The times they’re allowed to see each other are very sweet and it’s quickly established that this is a happy, if strained by circumstance, marriage. Simm is in a jail near London, making it quite an effort for his family to come and see him as they live just outside Norwich. With four children initially under ten, the impact of the visits takes its toll as it’s implied that there’s a limit on how many visitors are allowed at first. The children are excellent as well, partly due to their growing up with the film. Having the project for five years must have helped as they all blend together to make a convincing family. The transitions in time work extremely well and are done subtly but clearly. There’s a break from dialogue and character focus for a shot of the road the family walk on with some music. From there the story picks itself back up and you start to see differences in the children as they begin to grow throughout the film. Less obvious are the changes in the adults, but some facial hair on Simm and a weary looking Henderson sort that out.
It’s the score that lets the film down, and in a major way. Because the family are so lovely, you find yourself rooting for them. It’s such a real situation and a well created film, and yet the score is so awfully earnest and patronising it takes away from the characters and their story. It doesn’t fit the tone of the film and actually wouldn’t work as a cinematic score elsewhere anyway. The musical direction is so far off it’s worth asking if there was any discussion between Winterbottom and Nyman about it.
If you can get past the score and how random it is, this is a wonderful film. It’s a very well observed drama that benefits from the five year filming time. With excellent performances from all involved and some lovely cinematography, it’s well worth your time. The children are the stand outs, mainly because despite their ages, they give very convincing performances. It’s worth going for the four of them alone.
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Writers: Laurence Coriat, Michael Winterbottom
Stars: Shirley Henderson, John Simm, Johnny Lynch
Runtime: 106 min