Living – reserved and poignant little gem.


29th January, at home

God I love films about orderly, reserved British people feeling emotions very quietly. Especially if it is set in the 1950s with beautiful cinematography. I vaguely remember writing an essay for A Level Literature coursework on the ‘little man’ in British literature and I still enjoy seeing very repressed people letting some feelings seep out. The idea of a tightly controlled man going to the same job for forty years in an identical suit with bowler hat and umbrella makes me strangely nostalgic for a past I was never a part of. The imagined civility, stoicism (what the Finns call ‘sisu’) and self-deprecation make me feel strangely protective and I want to faciliate them releasing their tensions and going wild.

That Living is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru (1952) with a script by Kazuo Ishiguro magnifies the strange similarities of the British and Japanese cultural repression, order and correctness. In both a sense of ‘the right way of doing things’ seems very powerful and that prolonged bureaucracy is almost more important than the action. To be honest, I could have spent ninety minutes marvelling at the London County Hall building, offices, stationery and watching people work quietly. This combined with marvelling at the prolonged, almost silent shots of the cinema in Empire of Light last week suggests that maybe I need to meditate more or just have a bit less on in my life. Although I do think ‘Slow Cinema’ could be a popular new genre that would score highly with middle-aged working parents.

Of course Bill Nighy is perfection and rightly deserves the Oscar nomination, but mostly I loved that someone has made a one hundred minute film with a tightly controlled grown-up idea. It felt a bit like The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde at points, like an adult fairy tale about the meaning of life and how we can all make a difference. A lovely, poignant film with a rich message.


2 thoughts on “Living – reserved and poignant little gem.

  1. Francesca Hurdley says:

    Really keen to see this! Even more now I have read your review xxx

    Also – saw The Banshees of Inisherran last night – amazing but we were puzzled that it is described as a comedy – we found it profoundly sad – but wonderful performances and made me feel homesick for Connemara which we went to in 1969! xxx

    Sent from my iPad


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