Living (2022)


Living Storyline

In 1950s London, a humorless civil servant decides to take time off work to experience life after receiving a grim diagnosis.

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Living Movie Reviews


From the opening footage of 1950s London to the closing credits this is a simply exquisite film. Bill Nighy is perfect in the lead role of the senior civil servant who is forced to confront his own mortality and Amy Lou Wood and Alex Sharp provide fine support at the other end of the age spectrum. There are some lovely scenes all played with understated panache and whilst the storyline is undoubtedly a little sad the film leaves the viewer appreciative of what’s really important in life. It also achieves this in an understated, non preachy and gentle tone. There’s also a fine soundtrack throughout and a lovely final scene to round it all off.


Now I am not usually a particular fan of Bill Nighy but in this he is very much at the top of his game. An adaptation of Kurosawa’s “Ikuru” (1952), the setting is shifted to London where Nighy is the fastidious “Mr. Williams”. A local civil servant heading up the public works department of the London County Council. His small team has some new blood in the form of “Mr. Wakeling” (Alex Sharp) whose baptism in the department is to accompany three ladies (and the audience) on a revelative journey through the pillar-to-post red tape that “Williams” himself facilitates – all guaranteeing that very little actually ever gets done! Leaving early one day, we discover that this erstwhile precise and predictable individual is seriously ill. Unable and/or unwilling to divulge this information to his son, he absconds to the seaside where he encounters “Sutherland” (Tom Burke) who gives him a relaxing tour of the local hotspots before he return to London and happens upon one of his team “Miss Harris” (Aimee Lou Wood). A posh luncheon ensues and the elderly gent and his young colleague start to bond. This bond soon has – unbeknown either of them – tongues wagging, but when she gets a new job he finds himself drawn to her. Drawn to her joie de vivre and general enthusiasm for a life he knows he will not have for too much longer. That becomes contagious as he decides to apply himself, and his team, to achieving at least one more thing in a professional capacity! It is a gently paced and evocative story that deals with that sense of re-prioritisation faced by anyone when faced with a profound change in circumstances. Nighy has a delightfully understated manner to his performance here, Wood is also effective as his increasingly valuable confidente and Oliver Hermanus manages to retain much of the charm and gently potent impetus of the original Ishiguro story. It is beautifully scored by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch who incorporates original and powerful themes with established classical ones. The costumes and overall aesthetic of the film complements well the classy and impressive performances that resonated in quite a thought-provoking, and multi-layered fashion as I watched it. I was engaged by this from start to finish and I really quite enjoyed it.