Film: Brilliant Bill Nighy in Living




Bill Nighy is brilliant as the buttoned-up English bureaucrat in pin-striped suit and bowler hat, who takes the same train to work every day and rarely cracks a smile.

His dour Mr Williams rules over a 1953 Government department where the main activity seems to be shuffling piles of paper from one stack of files to the next.

It is not until his doctor informs him that he can expect to die in six to eight months that he reflects on his monotonous life and realises that he has never really lived. He stops going into work without telling anyone his grim news, even the son who shares his house.

“I wish I could be alive for one day – but I realise I don’t know how,” he reflects.



While wandering the streets of postwar London he encounters a former colleague, the bubbly Miss Margaret Harris (a charming Aimee Lou Wood), who has just been offered a new job and needs him to give her a reference.

To her surprise, he invites her to lunch at Fortnum’s, and they spend a pleasant afternoon together, walking through the city and chatting in the park. She confesses that she secretly nicknamed him Mr Zombie. Gradually he starts to relax.

Watching children at play in the park, he recalls his last day at work, when he dealt with three women who had petitioned the council to transform an ugly vacant block into a children’s play area.

At last he has a purpose: to steer the playground petition through the normally inpenetrable roadblocks of officialdom.



Living, with an understated screenplay by Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro, is a retelling of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru, which in turn was inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s 1886 novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich.

Rather than being depressing, this delicate story of a dying man’s dream is full of hope and inspiration.

Director Oliver Hermanus, with exquisite work from cinematographer Jamie Ramsay, has brilliantly captured the stiff-upper-lip spirit of postwar London.

All the cast are excellent, particularly Aimee Lou Wood, and Nighy gives a masterclass in subtle characterisation.

Living will open on Thursday, March 16, at Luna Leederville, Luna On SX, Windsor Cinema, Luna Outdoor and Camelot Outdoor.


Watch the Trailer…