Michael Winterbottom, who OTB spoke to last month, is surely Britain’s busiest film director, best-known for his three projects with Steve Coogan (24 Hour Party People, A Cock and Bull Story and The Trip). Throughout his career, Winterbottom has made taboo-busting films, most notably 9 Songs, which featured unsimulated sex to a soundtrack of indie tunes, and The Killer Inside Me, which was criticised by some critics for the realistic brutality of its violence against women. Film4 commisioned him to make a film looking at the prison system, and Everyday is what he came up with.
Shot over five years to achieve an authentic portrayal of the aging process, Everyday stars John Simm, Shirley Henderson and four real-life siblings as a family blighted by a father’s stint in the slammer. The film largely focuses on Henderson on the children on the outside living in rural Norwich, save for infrequent visits to visit Simm in a London prison. The strain on Henderson’s character is the film’s main focus: from the heavy bags under her eyes to her struggle working multiple jobs in order to put food on the table.
Shot in grainy vérité and filmed in real prisons with real prisoners, the film radiates authenticity. The actors were encouraged to improvise set-ups, giving the film a documentary feel. Winterbottom also takes advantage of East Anglia’s rural aesthetic, interjecting the film with a touch of Malickian scenery here and there. The four real-life siblings are convincing, generating warmth throughout the film despite bring very young non-actors.
Simm’s day release visits give the film room to convey his character’s lament for his wrongdoing, as he struggles to readjust to life on the outside. The inevitable toll on the couple’s sex life sees Shirley fall for another man, perhaps an inevitable consequence of the pair’s time apart.
Everyday is a triumph, one of Winterbottom’s strongest efforts (which takes some doing). The prolific director has produced a film that provides a moving and refreshingly non-judgemental assessment of its effects on a young family, eking out some outstanding performances from his cast.