Film review: Everyday, starring John Simm


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The Independent Culture

Already shown on Channel 4 last year, Michael Winterbottom's drama is an experiment that doesn't work. Filmed at intervals over five years, it means to be a tender study in separation and growing up.

John Simm plays Ian, in prison and missing his family. Shirley Henderson (left, with Robert Kirk) plays his wife Karen, who keeps the home fires burning in rural Norfolk and takes their four young children (all played by actual siblings, the Kirks) to visit their dad.

Winterbottom focuses on the quotidian detail of the children's lives – mealtimes, school, travel by rail and bus – set against the fraught feelings occasioned by the prison visits. But the to-ing and fro-ing comes at the expense of any psychological interest; both adults and kids are opaque to us, and the film decides to fill the emotional gap with Michael Nyman's awful score.

"The film is about duration," says Winterbottom, which is self-evidently true, but without variation in pace or tone it becomes exasperating. We never learn what crime Ian has committed, or how he gets by in prison, aside from one dark reference to his being coerced in a drug scam. Karen has a flirtation with a local man who seems ready to play surrogate dad, though even this never rises to a crisis.

Concentrating on the relentlessness of passing time, as indicated in the title, Everyday catches the humdrum rhythms of a life, interspersed with scenes of family reunion that are purely monotonous. It's a story of small moments, well-acted by all, but it never takes the necessary leap into drama.