Friday Film Review | ‘Living’
I watched the premiere of “Living” on my TV screen at home during virtual Sundance 2022 but knew in my heart it was a film truly made for the big screen. It has the classic quality and sentiment of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and Bill Nighy in the starring role was a prim and proper British version of Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey.
The story itself feels even richer than the cinematography and now that I know its origins I understand why. Let me outline it for you. In 1952, Japanese director Akira Kurosawa released the critically acclaimed “Ikiru” based on Tolstoy’s 1886 masterpiece “The Death of Ivan Ilyich." “Living” is director Oliver Hermanus’ remake of that film. The original screenplay is written by Nobel winner, Kazuo Ishiguro. Interesting parallels have been drawn between the complex and constricting set of behavioral expectations found both in Japan and England during that time.
The basic theme is that most of us do not truly consider life until we are faced with death and once facing death, how will we live the rest of our life.
Set in 1950s London, Nighy is Mr. Williams, a long-time civil servant in a routine job, performing routine tasks, in a bureaucratic organization more focused on preventing things from happening from than moving things forward.
Two monumental things happen in Mr. Williams’ life which turn it completely around. He receives a devastating medical diagnosis, and he meets a lovely, kind and high-spirited young woman.
Aimee Lou Wood is delightful in the role of Miss Margaret Harris who is instrumental in drawing the attention of Mr. Williams and diverting him from his staid routine to new and wondrous possibilities. Nighy is simply perfection in his portrayal of the bowler-hatted, mirthless Mr. Williams.
One might expect to feel saddened by the events of this film, but it is more likely one will be inspired; to live life like it is the only one you’ll have, to feel it, to appreciate it, to find ways to make a positive difference in the world around you.
Park City Film will screen "Living" at the Santy Auditorium, this weekend, Feb. 3 to Feb. 5. See their website for details.