Bill Nighy embraces life’s final moments in Living

-Brenda Hillegas

Living, directed by Oliver Hermanus with a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro (based on the 1952 Japanese film Ikiru from Akira Kurosawa and inspired by The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy), focuses on Mr. Williams- a bureaucratic worker in 1950s London who just received a terminal diagnosis. Though Mr. Williams seems content with his routine position (we later learn a fitting- at the time- nickname from his co-workers that does give him a chuckle), he is suddenly faced with the urge to live a little before it’s too late.

After a brief getaway to a soak in a night of carnival games, burlesque and pub hopping (Nighy’s sweet rendition of the Scottish folk song, “The Rowan Tree”, is worth the viewing of Living alone), he returns home to take ahold of his remaining days. He befriends a young woman, Margaret (Aimee Lou Wood), who once worked under him and is now on to bigger things. And with the help of new employee Peter (Alex Sharp), they set out to create something that everyone will remember him by long after he is gone.

The movie, while a bit somber for the holiday season, is still a great one to watch as we put 2022 behind us. It’s a reminder that we’re only here for a short time and what we do, no matter how big or small, should be something we love and should make an impact. Bill Nighy beautifully portrays Mr. Williams and all of the character’s emotions as he journeys through his last moments on earth (a standout, heartbreaking scene shows Nighy confiding in a stranger at a coffee shop). Seeing his name pop up for a Golden Globe nomination was not surprising and I anxiously await an Academy Award nod as well.

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