Living Review - Touching, Expressive, Meaningful

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Living, from SONY Pictures Classics, presents a story of decisions, as the everyday life of a London government worker becomes upended when he receives a medical diagnosis that forces him to determine the importance of legacy.

The film begins on the train platform, on any given morning commute in 1960s in the suburbs of London. Countless men, all dressed identically, await the ride that transports them into obscurity. And at one stop after we meet the department supervisor, Mr. Williams, played by Bill Nighy,

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Mr. Williams is surrounded by Mr. Wakeling, the new guy, played by Alex Sharp, Mr. Rusbridger, played by Hubert Burton, Ms Harris, played by Aimee Lou Wood, Mr. Middleton, played by Adrian Rawlins, Mr. Talbot, played by Jamie Wilkes, all gathered in a small office with little ventilation to filter out the continual non-stop cigarette smoke which was still permitted.

When we arrive at the office, we see it is a team table, as each person is responsible essentially for shuffling papers from one pile to another with the hope of maybe wading through the bureaucracy and getting something accomplished.

The wheels turn slowly in government; and even with the three ladies, Mrs. McMasters, played by Zoe Boyle, Mrs. Porter, played by Jessica Flood, Mrs. Button, played by Ffion Jolly, who show up diligently every week petitioning for a playground, the departments are a circuitous maze of evasion and sidestepping so not be responsible for another project.

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Mr. Williams, a quiet man, speaks with a raspy low, almost whisper, as he addresses his team. Never one to raise his voice, we simply consider this part of his leadership choices. One this day, as the ladies have arrived, again, wanting the city to build a playground in an abandoned lot, he assigns Mr. Wakeling to the task of accompanying the women to each department, who in turn explain that it is the responsibility of another.

On this day, Mr. Williams surprises his staff by explaining he will need to leave early. Shocking, to say the least for his team. We understand from his doctor that this diagnosis, had been the result of many tests before it. Today, however, we understand terminality has arrived.

With all the thoughts of how to handle these final months marching through his head, he realizes he has no idea what his final wishes would be. He toys with the idea of telling his son Hart, played by Olivier Chris, and probably would have if he hadn't overheard his wife demanding he handle his father and especially the money that his mother left them. So, he decides to visit to the shore, and for three days he commiserates with his fate, trying to harness the life that he believes he allowed to pass him by.

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So in an act of rebellion, against the system, the oppression, his cancer, he exhibits a new found take charge spirit, an odd joie de vivre, an exuberance for living, especially as he is dying, and won't be turned down.

While he is trying to manage the moments he has left, he decides the best way to leave a legacy is to champion the cause that has resulted in more slammed doors, more denials, more rejections, than any other.

The ensemble cast captures the deeply communicative lives they live in in reserved hushed tones. Living presents a life lesson: live as if time is limited. Build the legacy you desire; if it is greatness don't hesitate, if it is love don't wait. Time waits for no one, and tomorrow is not promised.

Living, a poignant, affectionate, and gentle love story, opens in theaters December 23, 2022. See it.

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County: UK.

Language: English.

Runtime: 102minutes.

Release date: December 23, 2022.

Director: Olivier Hermanus.

Producer: Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley.

Writer: Kazuo Ishiguro, Akira Kurosawa.

Cast: Bill Nighy, Alex Sharp, Hubert Burton, Michael Cochrane, Aimee Lou Wood, Adrian Rawlins, Anant Varman, Zoe Boyle, Jessica Flood, Ffion Jolly, Patsy Ferran, Olivier Chris.

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