Living is a British drama directed by Oliver Hermanus from a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro, adapted from the 1952 Japanese film Ikiru directed by Akira Kurosawa, which in turn was inspired by the 1886 Russian novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy. Set in 1953 London, it depicts a bureaucrat in the county Public Works department facing a fatal illness. Living just became available in the United States after the Oscar nominations. Prior to that, Living was released in the United Kindom in November of 2022. I enjoyed Living as it was quiet and entertaining.
In 1953 London, Rodney Williams, (Bill Nighy) receives a terminal cancer diagnosis from his doctor. He neglects to tell his son Michael (Barney Fishwick) and daughter-in-law, Fiona (Patsy Ferran), instead he decides to withdraw half of his life savings, purchase a lethal amount of sleeping pills, and commit suicide in a seaside resort town. Finding himself unable to go through with it, he gives the sleeping medicine to Mr. Sutherland (Tom Burke), an insomniac writer he meets in a restaurant. Moved by Williams’ story, Sutherland takes him for a night on the town, where Williams replaces his traditional bowler hat with a trilby. In a pub, he sings “The Rowan Tree,” a Scottish folk song from his childhood.
Mr. Williams had been a bureaucrat his entire adult life. Stiff and boring, he lived a structured mundane existence. Having been told that he will expire in a few months, Rodney decides to change things up a bit. Despite being single and up in age, Rodney tries to enjoy what he has left of his time. This sweet, somewhat amusing story is well told. You don’t feel sad or emotional about his abrupt end instead, it feels like a life well lived. There’s not much to say about Living except that it was unexpectedly suspenseful because you never knew how it would all end. I found the movie enlightening and entertaining, especially seeing how his family and colleagues took Rodney’s demise. Living is currently in theaters — Check It Out!
As of February, Living has grossed the following: DOMESTIC (18.5%) – $1,630,018, INTERNATIONAL (81.5%) – $7,184,934, for a WORLDWIDE total of $8,814,952. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 96% based on 182 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The site’s critic’s consensus reads: “Living sets a high bar for itself in setting out to remake a Kurosawa classic—and director Oliver Hermanus and star Bill Nighy clear it in triumphant fashion.” On Metacritic, it holds a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”.
[LIVING was Oscar-nominated for the 95th Academy Awards for BEST: Actor and Writing (Adapted Screenplay) — Totaling 2 Oscar Nominations]