102 minutes(3 ½ out of 5)
Reviewed by: Alessia Belsito-Riera
I have been the biggest Bill Nighy fan ever since I first saw him in Love Actually, where I became hopelessly devoted to him. I then proceeded to watch as many of his movies as I could legally get my hands on. For all you readers out there who appreciate him as much as I do, I have a friend who met him, and she said that he is as lovely in real life as you would expect. So I would like to start off by saying: Bill Nighy, thank you for your service; you are a treasure.
I would also not judge you if you went to watch Living, Nighy’s newest film, solely for him. His performance is truly remarkable and his role, which is layered and nuanced, brings out the best in him. He is enough to sell it, but I believe you should go see Living for other reasons as well.
Based on Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 movie Ikiru, Living traces a similar story. Set in 1950s London, Williams (Nighy) is a product of his times. He is a civil servant in the department of public works, he goes to work every day on the train, ensures as little as possible gets done in his sector, and then takes the train home to repeat the cycle in the morning. When his doctor informs him that he only has a few months to live, Williams decides to make the time he has left count.
The screenplay was adapted by Japanese British Nobel Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro and was written specifically with Nighy in mind as a tribute of sorts to Ikiru. The cinematography by Jamie Ramsay is exceptional. And Aimee Lou Wood as young Margaret Harris is lovely. There are moments that drag on and are a bit anticlimactic, but maybe that’s the point.
Living is a simple movie. It is rich and deep in emotion despite the English reticence, but the plot is quite uncomplicated. We are used to action-packed movies with drama at every proverbial turn, so it was refreshing to take a step back and just enjoy the moment. Perhaps that is all Williams wished for as well.