Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People, A Mighty Heart) spent five years, on and off, filming this fictional portrait of a mother of four, Karen (Shirley Henderson), coping with the imprisonment of her husband, Ian (John Simm), for a minor crime of which we never hear the details.
But this isn’t a crime story or a sketch of life in jail: it’s a tender study of a fractured family adapting to new circumstances and is not so dissimilar in temperament and rhythm to Wonderland and Genova – Winterbottom’s previous collaborations with the writer Laurence Coriat. Wonderland, especially, is evoked by the presence of another poignant score by Michael Nyman, although both those earlier films offered a similar – and similarly affecting – cycle of fracture and renewal as the one we experience here.
As each of the main characters in Everyday subtly ages (or not so subtly in the case of the children), we watch as Karen occasionally visits her husband in prison with the kids in tow – meetings loaded with tension and sadness. Back at home, everyday events (meals, going to school, shifts at the pub) are coloured by absence and strain. The unusually extended shooting period and Winterbottom’s decision to cast siblings as the kids make for a strangely intimate and powerful depiction of time passing and the peaks and troughs of childhood.
Winterbottom keeps things quietly observational and in-the-moment: we don’t know, for example, how long Ian’s sentence is, and, at one point, his apparent release turns out to be just for a few hours. This fragmentary and unimposing style of storytelling – coupled with exemplary performances of bottled-up fear, anger and sorrow from Henderson and Simm – means that it’s all the more powerful when the film’s climax turns out to be so moving and affecting.