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London Film Festival Preview: Everyday
Adrian Lobb , October 17th, 2012 03:09

Adrian Lobb watches Michael Winterbottom's long-gestating family drama, which screens in the Official Competition at the 56th London Film Festival, before its November television broadcast by producers Channel 4

Filmed over five years, enabling actors John Simm and Shirley Henderson – plus real life siblings Stephanie, Robert, Shaun and Katrina Kirk, who play their children – to age in real time, Michael Winterbottom's bleak love story charts a family's struggle through a jail sentence. Ian (Simm) is in prison for an unspecified offence and the claustrophobic, pressured visits from his wife, Karen (Henderson), and assorted children are drawn in stark contrast to the big skies, open fields and deserted beaches near their home in North Norfolk.

A welcome lack of plot allows the nuances of the family's everyday survival, brief bursts of pleasure, frustrated attempts at communication and evolving dynamics to swoop and soar, while the rural setting goes against so many portrayals of crime and punishment as solely an urban issue. As Ian faces the day-to-day oppressions of prison life, moving through the system towards day release and the end of his sentence, Karen deals with the emotional and practical needs of first days at school, Christmasses, birthdays. Prison visits with assorted children involve a succession of trains, buses and taxis, adding to the emotional strain of temporary, invigilated reunion.

By filming in the Kirk kids' actual home and school, Winterbottom is able to extract beautifully natural, intimate performances from the young, untrained actors. The scenes in the classroom evoke Etre et Avoir (high praise), all the chaos and compassion captured with a minimum of fuss via the hand-held style the director first employed in 1999's Wonderland. A tender and compelling story of separation and survival, cleverly filmed and featuring fine performances from Winterbottom veterans Simm and Henderson, Everyday's scheduling as early as next month on Channel 4 – film lovers take note – should ensure it gets the wider audience it deserves.