Karen (Shirley Henderson) struggles to hold her family of four young children together, while her husband Ian (John Simm) serves time in prison.
In some ways, Everyday is an impressive piece of film making; filmed over the course of four years, and in between other projects, Michael Winterbottom made the choice to show the passage of time and the daily struggle faced by a woman who finds herself alone with four young kids. The passage of time is evident throughout the film – especially with regard to the kids – but the trouble is that there may not be enough emotional growth over the course of 97 minutes to justify the film.
Shirley Henderson seems to mirror her character’s efforts to hold everything together, as the actress tries desperately to anchor the film in some kind of emotional reality, and she is the only character that manages to grow during the course of the film. John Simm’s Ian does not seem to have learned from his mistakes and, while his interactions with the kids feel genuine, the only glimpse of a rounded character we see is during a jealous rage towards the end f the film.
The idea to cast four young siblings as Karen and Ian’s children was a great choice in the sense that they are obviously at their ease with one another, but they are not allowed to do anything other than simply be. It seems obvious that as the children grow older, and begin to understand that their father being in prison does not make for a normal family life, that there would be questions or realisations from the young cast – particularly the oldest who is fast heading towards adolescence – but the only changes these kids go through is physical, and after a while this loses it’s novelty. The children end up having an uninteresting screen presence and any childlike curiosity is removed, reducing the young cast to little more than extras.
Over the course of 97 minutes, the triumphs of the everyday – getting kids to school, visiting an incarcerated parent, making dinner – become humdrum, and although Michael Nyman’s admittedly lovely score attempts to bring drama to the mundane, this simply serves to convince the audience that a deus ex machina is imminent, and not deliver.
Michael Winterbottom has tried to make the ordinary extraordinary, but has not succeeded. The audience understands that this family may have an exceptional element, and spend their time waiting for the extraordinary to happen. That said, there are moments of charm throughout – particularly the children’s excitement at seeing their father – but these are not enough to carry the film.
In all, Everyday, despite its grand designs, ends up becoming exactly what the title suggests. This was an ambitious project for Winterbottom to take on, but uneven pacing combined with 97 minutes of repetitiveness, the tediousness of the everyday and unevolved characters fail to tell a story of any interest.