Living, an English language remake of legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru, had its premiere at Sundance. It’s a quiet contemplation of life and what can happen when we have to face our own mortality.
Written by Alex Gilston
Living finds us with Mr Williams (Bill Nighy) a public works manager, leading a quiet existence, who finds out that he only has six months to live. He then tries to go on a journey of self discovery, trying to fulfill his purpose knowing that his time is running out. The story shines through due to its simplicity, the most interesting moments coming through the study of Bill Nighy’s character. There is always an apprehension to be had when remaking a classic film but the story of Ikiru is universal and actually fits very well into the way Living molds it.
Bill Nighy is massively impressive as Mr Williams. It’s the perfect casting as Nighy holds a stoicism that it’s hard to think any other older actor would be able to pull off. It’s such a quiet performance whilst he is still able to portray the existential dread that one would feel in his situation. Living is split between his intersections with two people, Sutherland (Tom Burke) and Margaret (Aimee Lou Wood). Both offering different lessons on what he has been missing out on in life and also dealing with his estranged relationship with his son. The last aspect of the story deals with Mr Williams searching for a purpose and also with leaving a legacy behind once he has gone. It’s cleverly put together and ends up throwing an emotional gut punch in the films closing moments,
Living is a film about life and death, about making the most of what we have whilst we have it, and helped by Bill Nighy’s calmly emotional performance it leaves you thinking about the most important thing there is and that simply is, living.