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Living (2022)

Duration1h 38m
RatingsUK: PG, USA: PG, Denmark
Source of storyThe 1952 Japanese film Ikiru by Akira Kurosawa, in turn imspired by The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy.
DirectorOliver Hermanus
Writers/ScriptKazuo Ishiguro
StarringAlex Sharp, Bill Nighy, Michael Cochrane, Aimee Lou Wood, Lia Williams, Tom Burke,
RatingsIMDb: 7.5/10 by 3706 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 95% by 168 reviewers. Review2view: 6/10.

Photo courtesy of the Sundance Institute.

Summary: It is 1953. Mr Williams, four other men and Miss Harris, work in the Public Works department of London’s County Hall. Their main activity seems to be voiding doing anything positive, so each of their desks is high with files. They are petitioned by three ladies from east London who wish to convert a bomb site into a children’s playground, but manage to avoid doing anything by sending them to the Parks department, who usually send them back. Mr Williams is given the news that he is to die due to an incurable cancer and so changes the habits of a lifetime. He takes Miss Harris to lunch and goes on a night out with Mr Sutherland. He also gets out the file on the children’s playground and initiates the project.

Content: No sex or nudity, but some social drinking. Was there smoking? There should have been. The office workers including the new start Mr Wakeling get on the same suburban train from the same station, and all sit in the same compartment except for Mr Williams. They sit in their office behind their piles of papers. The ladies from East London bad mouth them but mostly get nowhere. Mr Williams receives his bad news. He goes on a bender. He treats Miss Harris to lunch at Fortnums and is discussed by his son and daughter-in-law with whom he lives. We see his funeral. The men in the office swear to do better.

A View: The critics loved this outing. They all knew about Ikiru and Kazuo Ishiguro can do no wrong. I did not know about Ikiru, and I find much of Ishiguro’s work curiously slanted, almost surreal. So it is with this outing. There is not the remotest chance that five people working in the same London office would all join the train at the same station, and even if they did, they would not sit in the same compartment. And would they, as minor functionaries, wear bowler hats? Bill Nighy is a National Treasure, and as usual he is great, but you could see him is something else for nothing.

Other films reviewed on this site starring Bill Nighy effectively playing himself include The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Limehouse Golem and Dad’s Army.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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