Debuting at the London Film Festival, Michael Winterbottom’s ‘Everyday’, was screened on Channel 4 earlier this month. Filmed over five years, it follows a family affected by the imprisonment of the father, played by John Simm. Shirley Henderson starred as his isolated partner, while the children were played by four real-life siblings who we see growing up as the film progresses.
On the whole, mainstream media reaction has been positive with the film receiving 4 out of 5 stars by both The Guardian and Evening Standard. On the Guardian website, writer Catherine Shoard in commenting on the Films depiction of the effect of imprisonment on family life says:
‘In showing the accumulating effect of Simm’s imprisonment, Winterbottom has made a film that’s almost unbearably moving. Rarely is one quite so intimately involved with people about whom one knows so little.’
David Sexton, writing for the London Evening Standard meanwhile, draws particular attention to the fact that ‘Everyday’ as much as being a film about Imprisonment is also about Family life:
‘The sole subject here is the family and how such a long separation can be survived: specifically, what, in such circumstances — the brief meetings, in prison visits and then on parole days — are like. ‘
‘This could have been your average prison drama, all nasty warders and slamming doors. But it’s not.’
Dave Calhoun, of Time Out London also chooses to pick up on this theme of Family Life in his comprehensively positive review of Winterbottom’s offering. He, like Sexton, argues that as opposed to being a story primarily about Crime or everyday life inside the UK Prison system, Everyday is first and foremost:
‘A tender study of a fractured family adapting to new circumstances ‘
Whilst many critics felt engaged by ‘Everyday’, others did not, one critic writing that he struggled to feel involved and engage with the primary characters in this offering. Hence, rather than feeling ‘unbearably moved’ like The Guardian’s Catherine Shoard, David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews pulls no punches in saying:
‘The movie remains hopelessly uninvolving for much of its brief-yet-not-brief-enough running time’
‘It’s only as time progresses that Everyday slowly-but-surely begins to morph into a curiously tedious piece of work, with Winterbottom and Coriat’s uneventful and increasingly repetitive sensibilities resulting in an absence of momentum that’s nothing short of disastrous.’
Thus, whilst in some senses Everday has divided critics, with some feeling wholly engaged by the family, and others not, the majority of the critical reaction to this new UK offering has been very positive. Intriguingly, many of Everyday’s advocates felt that the film’s excellence came from the fact that it focussed on the life and dynamics of a family undeniably affected by a father’s imprisonment, and how this is liable to change over the passage of time.