'Life' Review: 'Ikiru' Adaptation Starring Bill Nighy Asks What We'll Be Remembered For?
Bill Nighy's performance is very moving as he regrets having lived a fulfilling but not fulfilling life.
This review was originally part of our 2022 Sundance Film Festival coverage.
Living is the English-language adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's film Living, based on Leo Tolstoy's novel The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Set in 1950s London during post-war reconstruction, it follows the final days of Mr Williams (Bill Nighy) following a dire forecast. Kazuo Ishiguro's screenplay largely follows the same narrative structure as Akira Kurosawa, but the new setting offers additional layers - combining elements of British reconstruction with Williams himself rebuilding at the last minute what he intends to keep. His legacy shines brightly.
Nye's character was introduced long before he first set foot on camera. The film opens on Peter Wicklin's (Alex Sharp) first day with London's Guildhall Public Works Department. He boards the train with his new colleagues Middleton (Adrian Rollins), Rusbridger (Hubert Burton) and Hart (Oliver Chriss), who tell him about his new Mr. Williams, the boss, everything he needs to know - paint him like this Public Works looming, poised and determined. This scene is repeated in the final scene of the film, with mixed results.
Director Oliver Hermanus There are many lovely directorial choices throughout the film. From the way he mixes harsh shadows with soft, somber lightning, to the natural way he builds scenes that are inherently personal and intimate in dialogue-heavy scenes. Much of this clearly reflects his frequent collaboration with director of photography Jamie Ramsay. This familiarity allows them to work together to create a beautiful film that relies heavily on conveying the humanity of the characters to the audience. Time slowed down as Williams set off to meet his doctor, as he walked slowly from get off work. Slow motion effectively blends into the monotony of his life while hinting at how fast life can move as the end draws near. It's a neat visual cue, judiciously used sparingly, increasing the impact of its exploits.
In an early scene following his diagnosis, Williams is seen sitting alone in the relative darkness of his living room. As he reflects on his life, he sees glimpses of his past, like scenes from a black and white movie. They consist of seemingly mundane moments - a game in a sport, a night out - slices of life Life is now on the brink of disappearing forever. But isn't that what life is made of? Tiny moments that fit into the tapestry of our existence?
Instead of returning to work, Williams shrugged off his duties at county hall to spend an evening of bohemian orgies with equally depressed bohemian author Sutherland (Tom Burke) . The nightlife leads him to meet his soon-to-be ex-colleague Margaret Harris (Amy Lou Wood), whose vivacious personality gives him the burst of life he needs to come to terms with at the end of his life. With With renewed vigor, he reflects on the monotony he led - devoted to rebuilding Britain but never fully committed to his own.
Williams spent the remaining weeks focusing on building a playground on the rubble of a bombed-out neighborhood. Initially, the project was shelved, deemed unimportant, as women clamored in county government for action on their plans. His recognition of the importance of playgrounds, the freedom of children to play and the innocence of childhood seems a fitting final contribution that reflects the beginning and end of life.
while This may be the somewhat understated aspect of the film, with Wakeling seemingly playing a younger mutant of Mr. Williams, but in this case, he witnesses a profound change in someone else's character, which casts a long shadow over his own future .Everyone who worked with Mr. Williams in the public works sector in the final months was fundamentally changed by this small gesture. But Wakeling, in particular, seems to match Williams in a unique way, unknowingly repeating the same steps Williams did when he dated Miss Harris — taking her to the boardwalk and the movie theater. It's a fun way to show the ripple effect of a small action.
Life begs the question: what are we each doing with our lives? We get on the train, we go to work, the soles of our shoes hit the pavement, our pens find their paper. Day in and day out, we strive to be cogs in a machine, but what are we really doing? Will we be remembered with respect and affection, or will we become irrelevant memories?
Life is ultimately a very melancholy film, asking viewers to look inward and reflect on the legacy they will one day leave behind. It's beautiful, haunting, and Nighy When he regrets the good life he's had, it's very touching, but not good enough.
Living is in theaters now.