They say that one should always seek to live life to its fullest, because you can never truly tell how much time you have left. Well, what if it took until you were near the end of your time to finally learn that lesson? Such is the case for the protagonist of LIVING, which AMC Theatres has selected to be its latest Artisan Film.
An English-language retelling of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film, IKIRU, this period drama stars Bill Nighy as a disillusioned, aging civil servant who receives some grim news about his health. However, the effect it has on his character turns out to be an endearing one, inspiring him to take some time off from his job and truly experience life for the first time. Let’s dive into what makes this uplifting and refreshing human story an AMC Artisan Film.
Brings A Unique Vision And Perspective
In addition to being a remake of a film released in 1952, director Oliver Hermanus’ version of IKIRU is not a modernized update, but a retelling deliberately set in the same time period. It is even presented in standard definition and with an aspect ratio that resembles films of the era. However, LIVING takes advantage of something its source material did not possess: color.
Hermanus brilliantly captures the beauty of post-war London with a clever use of lighting and different shades of color that achieve a stirring contrast, such as the way male characters’ plain business attire differs greatly from female characters’ light and colorful dresses. Some of the most stunning scenes involve Bill Nighy’s Mr. Williams – along with an artist played by Tom Burke – enveloped in a saturated light with a soft focus that captures the lively essence of his night-time debauchery.
Pushes Boundaries And Sparks Conversation
As previously established, LIVING follows Bill Nighy’s character, Mr. Williams, as he transitions from a man encompassed by the repetitive, daily grind of shuffling through documents and proposals into a man who wishes to experience the joys that life grants, upon receiving a terminal diagnosis. It is an important lesson that people of any age can relate to and benefit from about breaking free from our traditional routines and responsibilities to celebrate the things we truly cherish with those we love for as often and as long as we can.
Yet, a healthy reminder about the importance of living life to the fullest is not the only thing that audiences, especially those from the United States, can take from the film. LIVING also, intriguingly, addresses the human nature to hold in our emotions, particularly when it comes to dealing with matters related to our health and our mortality. Mr. Williams never reveals to his own son that he has mere months to live, but does tell his young employee, Ms. Harris – played by Aimee Lou Wood – whose own “appetite for life, joy” opens his eyes to what he has been missing after a chance encounter.
Stretches Actors Outside Their Comfort Zones
A winner of two BAFTA Awards – one for the acclaimed British miniseries “State of Play” and another in the same year for 2003’s holiday-themed romantic-comedy favorite LOVE ACTUALLY – Bill Nighy is one of the most versatile and exquisitely talented actors to come out of the United Kingdom. In addition to the aforementioned classics, he is also known for chewing the scenery as legendary, cursed pirate captain Davy Jones in the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN movies and providing an unexpected moment of heartbreaking earnestness in the horror-comedy classic SHAUN OF THE DEAD.
As Mr. Williams – who is also referred to as “Mr. Zombie” for his cold and lethargic demeanor by Ms. Harris – Nighy shows brilliant range and captivating nuance in the role that requires very few words, but does evoke refreshing honesty, sensitivity and gentleman-like qualities. He has already received his fourth BAFTA Award nomination and fourth nod from the Golden Globes as well for his stellar work in LIVING.
LIVING may have a good shot at receiving some recognition from the Academy AwardsⓇ this year, too – but not just for Bill Nighy’s inspired lead performance as Mr. Williams. The music for the film is one of its most impressive and essential highlights.
Composed by French musician Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch and performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra, the score – similar to Bill Nighy’s performance – is an eclectic and deeply emotional balancing act. Often, it encompasses an angelic and elegant feel, but also with agonizingly deep and heart-wrenchingly heavy tones at the same time that lend beautifully to moments when the otherwise silent Mr. Williams looks back on his past or is contemplating his future.
Movies like LIVING only come out every so often. It is a drama that forces you to confront the concept of mortality, while also welcoming you to embrace what is offered to you as you are still living with bold pride and impassioned vigor. It should come as no surprise as to why we have chosen it as an AMC Artisan Film and recommend that you check it out when it comes to an AMC Theatres location near you.