Living – The DVDfever Cinema Review – Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood

Living centres around a man known only by his surname for the majority of the film, Williams, played by Bill Nighy (The World’s End), and set in 1953, where every businessman wears bowler hats, all calling each other “Mr” this and that – with no first names – and all acting very prim and proper, including how it’s not the done thing to crack jokes on the train station platform before heading off to work.

However, as a member of the Old Guard, Williams never joins the rest of the team in their train carriage, preferring to live more in solitary fashion, which made me think that’s how he’d lived his life in general, although as we soon see, he was married and now widowed, and does have a son, who’s since married, yet they live with him.

He lives a very dull, entitled and subservient life, in a job where they do a lot of paperwork – without actually explaining what they do. You do gather it’s local council work, and one case that comes up involves a women’s petition for a children’s park, requiring the redevelopment of a World War II bombsite. Can he pull his head out of his tired backside in order to help sort this out? They’ve been trying since forever to get this sorted out, so no wonder it takes forever to get a response from Stockport Council!

His diagnosis isn’t made clear at first, but what is clear from the trailer – given his expression, is that the prognosis is not at all good, hence the title, Living, and the premise being about wanting to make the most of life, because he feels like he’s wasted it in his job. Hence, as things stand, he wants to live a little, but… doesn’t know how.

Living features gorgeous cinematography, and due to the period setting, the film is shot in 4:3, a ratio which annoyed a number of people with Zack Synder’s Justice League, as the entire film was shot that way – yet the 2hr 2017 studio cut was cropped top and bottom to 1.85:1 for cinema projection – for any scenes still remaining from Zack Snyder’s original footage. As a result, this really highlights the brilliant attention to detail of the 1950s. It was also chosen because it mirrors the original film’s aspect ratio, this movie being based on 1952’s Ikuru.

As an aside, our lead skips work without telling anyone, the day after he sees the doctor. If I didn’t turn up, not only would they ring me up to find out where I am, but if I hadn’t called in by lunchtime, they’d be on my doorstep!

Living is all about facing death, so don’t expect a laugh-a-minute, but do expect great acting, particularly from Mr Nighy. There’s also a great performance from Stockport’s very own Aimee Lou Wood (On The Edge: Mincemeat) as Margaret Harris, a woman who works in his office, but chances upon him while he’s out and about.

It does, however, make you think about how you should make more out of your own life, for example, I’d love to travel and see a lot of East Asia, such as China, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. Okay, so, China might be a difficult ask, but it’s something I really need to think about, now we’re coming more and more out of COVID.

Oh, and around 1hr 20mins into the film (with only 22 minutes left, including end credits), three women got up and walked out! You don’t get a refund, you know!

In fact, it’s a shame this film was fairly short. I see the Ikuru is an extra 40 minutes in length, but while this one doesn’t need to go that far, it would be nice to flesh out the lead character’s backstory some more.

Living is in cinemas now, and is available to pre-order on Amazon Prime. Other formats have not yet been announced, nor a release date.

Living – Official Trailer – Lionsgate Films UK

Detailed specs:

Running time: 102 minutes
Release date: November 4th 2022
Studio: Lionsgate Films UKFormat: 1.33:1 (ARRIRAW (3.4K))
Cinema: Cineworld Didsbury
Rating: 8/10

Director: Oliver Hermanus
Producers: Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley
Screenplay: Kazuo Ishiguro
Original screenplay: Akira Kurosawa
Music: Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch

Williams: Bill Nighy
Margaret Harris: Aimee Lou Wood
Peter Wakeling: Alex Sharp
Middleton: Adrian Rawlins
Rusbridger: Hubert Burton
Hart: Oliver Chris
Sir James: Michael Cochrane
Singh: Anant Varman
Mrs. McMasters: Zoe Boyle
Mrs. Smith: Lia Williams
Mrs. Porter: Jessica Flood
Talbot: Jamie Wilkes
Harvey: Richard Cunningham
Jones: John MacKay