British filmmaker Mike Leigh is a prolific conjurer of social realism and an acute observer of the mundane. Here he gleans from the fertile fields of improvisation yet another lingering reflection on the basic rhythms, joys, heartaches, awkwardness, vexations, longings, kinetic emotions, despair and checkered relationships of modern middle-class life. The film is divided into four seasonal segments. The happily married geologist Tom (Jim Broadbent) and medical counselor Gerri (Ruth Sheen) are nearing professional retirement as they putter in their garden; barbecue with family, friends and associates; and attend the funeral of the wife of Tom’s estranged brother Ronnie. Multiple visits from a lonely, neurotic, alcohol-fueled receptionist (Lesley Manville gnawing up the scenery as a human time bomb) drive the narrative to its most painful corners as Leigh and company explore the way we interpret life and each other, and the ways we both mask and express our innermost feelings.