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Living (2022)

This is a lovely film highlighted by a profound and moving performance by veteran actor Bill Nighy.

Set in London of the early 1950s, it tells the tale of a staid,
near taciturn mid-level bureaucrat chief (Mr. Williams) working in London city government where he and the lower level workers in his unit perform their workaday duties. Each morning they all routinely travel to work on the train, faithfully ply their seemingly meaningless function of essentially passing the buck, then return again home on the train.

One day a trio of ladies approach
es Williams’ unit insisting that a small public children’s playground be built on a track of city land that is in a state of neglect and disrepair. The ladies are subsequently shuffled from bureau to bureau, with each unit insisting it is not their purview, and in turn referring them on until they are eventually referred full circle back to Williams’ group. Williams then accepts their request, but simply files it in a high stack of things to consider, which is rather a development graveyard.

Mr. Williams in time learns through his physician that he has a terminal abdominal cancer. He accepts the diagnosis with a sedate composure. He then
intuits several paths on which to live out his remaining months. His final decision is the heart of the film. Along the way he accidentally comes into contact with a previous young female employee who is energetic and life-loving. His envy of her philosophy and their relationship causes Williams to come to certain insights which inspire him to pursue a civic project. We’ll not disclose the outcome of the film for those who haven’t seen it.

It’s impossible to imagine a performance of more depth than Bill Nighy’s Mr. Williams. His facial expressions, quiet reserve, self effac
ement, and subtle movements draw us into the character who is fondly remembered long after the final credits roll. Aimee Lou Wood also provides a strong performance as Miss Harris, the young carefree former employee who ultimately serves as Williams’ inspiration.

The production design, period costuming and settings were flawless. Actual footage of 1950s London were seamlessly blended into the contemporary production. The music score by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, often consisting of solo piano, was subtle and effective. If there is any weakness in the picture, the reverence
dramatized towards the ending is perhaps a little melodramatic.

is not only one of the chief films of recent times, but is one of the best films so far of the 21st Century.

Doc’s rating: 9/10