Sometimes there are movies that garner our attention from a still, a cast, a plot description or we’re just naturally drawn to a specific genre and will watch whatever falls into that subcategory. Oliver Hermanus’ Living definitely hits a few of those boxes for audiences. Bill Nighy is a national treasure and is always a delightful presence on screen, 1950s London is always a fascinating timeframe for a film, and adapting Kurosawa makes this a fully rounded film that definitely garners your attention and will leave you pleasantly delighted.
The movie focuses on. Williams played by the delightful Bill Nighy as he has an undisclosed terminal illness. While being relatively forgotten by his children, whom he lives with, he tries to find meaning in his final days and wants to give one final lasting impression to those around him to remember him by. He does this by befriending Margaret Harris played Aimee Lou Wood who is delighted by his friendship even if weary at first.
What truly stands out and shines throughout Living is the creation of Oliver Hermanus’ world that he wanted to portray throughout the film. The opening shots look and appear to almost be borrowed from movies set in that rich tapestry of the 50s with the grainy backdrop and set pieces as it slowly transforms into the movie the audience is about to experience, that feel never dissipates as it clears up while still having that vintage 50s feel to it. The set design, costuming, and overall arching beauty of the film truly breaks through the forefront and will transport the audience to this rich luscious landscape.
While a rich landscape and picturesque set design can make for a beautiful film, if the performances and chemistry shared amongst the cast lacks the entire thing is then voided. However, that is not the case with Living as Bill Nighy delivers a performance only he could, subtle, heartbreaking, and beautiful with his ability to shutter himself from the sad reality that exists within him giving this character such beautiful quiet depth. It is so rare to see such a deeply flawed character become so engulfed in emotion and entranced with the hand he has been dealt to try and make his final days something memorable instead of wallowing in the reality that his days are matched.
As well Aimee Lou Wood, who most audiences will recognize from Sex Education, shines bright in her performance as Margaret who befriends her boss without realizing he is in his final days, and brings a very bright light to his very dark reality. The chemistry shared between Wood and Nighy is simply remarkable and beautiful.
Oliver Hermanus’ Living is a beautiful portrayal of death, loss, and friendship that is highlighted by a rich timeline and excellent performances.