By Amanda Gilmore
Williams (Bill Nighy) is a veteran civil servant and bureaucratic cog in the rebuilding of Britain post-WWII. He spends his days pushing paper and simply existing until he is diagnosed with a terminal illness. With an estimated six-months remaining, Williams goes on a quest to feel what it’s like to live again.
This Film is a British remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru (To Live) and is exquisitely adapted by Nobel and Booker Prize-winning Author Kazuo Ishiguro. Ishiguro’s precisely-crafted Screenplay is set in a postwar London and Director Oliver Hermanus uses the era’s cinematic aesthetic to bring this story to the screen. However, even though Living is set during this period Ishiguro, Hermanus and Nighy make it resonate today.
Nighy brilliantly portrays Williams as a man who stopped living due to the repetitiveness of his life and simply began existing. He’s powerful in quiet moments of contemplation about his remaining days. These moments are contrasted with the vibrant scenes Williams shares with Margaret (Aimee Lou Wood). In her, he sees someone who lives life every day. Lou Wood is a bright and energetic force and commands the screen.
Overall, Living is a touching film about a man staring at death and evaluating what he wants to do for his remaining days. Additionally, it touches on the impact we leave on our family and society. It manages to accomplish this while never becoming overly sentimental. There are times were it drags but it makes up for it with a powerful Cast, an expert screenplay and a directing style that’s unique and innovative.
Living screens virtually at Sundance:
Premiere: Jan. 21 at 2PM EST
Second Screening: Jan. 23 at 10AM EST (available for 24hrs)