Living (Oliver Hermanus, 2022) wr. Kazuo Ishiguro, Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto; Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp, Tom Burke; remake of Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952, wr. Shinobu Hashimoto) aka To Live

Bill Nighy was nominated for Best Actor Oscar 2023, not for this so much as for his body of work. The part he plays in this film almost by definition requires him not to act. His character is a senior civil servant in the 1950s (bowler hat and pin-stripe suit) who betrays no emotion (even when he changes to a trilby). ... The first film I remember him for was The Boat that Rocked (2009). I also liked him in Hope Gap (2019).

Peter Debruge:
Living isn’t nearly as subtle as it purports to be, although it can feel that way, considering how much these characters hold back — and this, one supposes, is what audiences want from an Ishiguro script.
Meanwhile, director Hermanus seems to have Visconti’s Death in Venice as much in mind as Kurosawa’s original. He and his production team put considerable work into re-creating postwar London, opening the film up and trying to match its locations to the grainy old footage of the city glimpsed in the retro-style opening credits. There’s a corseted “correctness” to it — the costumes, the customs, the ever-so-proper way of speaking (or not speaking, as the case may be) — that we associate with Merchant Ivory movies. And yet we sense that repression is not Hermanus’ normal mode of expression. Nor is it Nighy’s. We desperately want to see Mr. Williams live a little, and might even allow ourselves to do the same. Variety.

Robert Abele:
Perhaps what’s most intriguing about the timing of a reimagined Ikiru, even one that’s also set in the past, is that in its tale of good public works, diligently facilitated in a privately resonant way, is a message perfectly attuned today — it’s an answer to our divisive era of virtue signaling, billionaire venality and the running joke that any do-nothing government is in a perpetual “infrastructure week.” With its aura of melancholic humanity and last-minute grace, Living reminds us that we’re all susceptible to a personal “infrastructure week,” but that it’s never too late to do something about it. The Wrap.

Mark Kermode:
Screenwriter Kazuo Ishiguro, whose novels The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go have formed the basis of very fine films, brings a fresh perspective to the themes of Kurosawa’s classic (itself inspired by Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich), while retaining a key structural device that allows the third act to loop back upon itself in hauntingly meditative fashion. That sense of cyclical duality is mirrored visually as opening newsreel footage of 1950s London blends seamlessly into elegantly choreographed frames that recall the future-retro feel of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, before giving way to dreamier hues, as cinematographer Jamie Ramsay charts Mr Williams’s search for his lost self. The Guardian.

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 96% based on 189 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The site's critics 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".

References and Links

Wikipedia page.

IMDb page.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 8 March, 2023 | Now: 8 March, 2023