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Shuswap Film Society: Paper pusher makes grab at life in 11th hour in film Living

Cinemaphile by Joanne Sargent
Actors Bill Nighy and Aimee Lou Wood star in the film Living, playing at the Salmar Classic Saturday, Feb. 4. (Contributed)

By Joanne Sargent

Special to the Observer

Our next movie, Living, is the story of a man transformed by a grim diagnosis, at long last learning how to feel alive.

Adapted from the classic 1952 Japanese film Ikiru, which means “to live”, this movie is set in London in the ’50s; both films feature repressed men attempting to grab at life at the eleventh hour.

Bill Nighy (in a stunning Oscar-nominated performance) plays Mr. Williams, a “stiff upper lip” widower with no close relationships and no interests. He’s a longtime civil servant, a paper pusher working at London’s City Works department, in a system where nothing gets done. He’s sleepwalking through life until, one day, his doctor gives him a death sentence.

Roused from his lethargy, he opts to focus more on living and less on his humdrum career. He begins to skip out of work to try new things, to lap up the experiences he missed out on. He turns to a local bohemian who takes him on a boozy tour of the city’s nightlife and spends afternoons in the company of a younger female workmate.

That young woman is Margaret, who gets him in trouble with his son and daughter-in-law, who are convinced he’s having an affair, but it is in fact a tender platonic friendship. She’s so full of life and, listening to her dreams, Williams remembers that he once had dreams of his own. With Margaret his inspiration, he sets out to patch up his fractured relationships and to endeavour a final act of kindness that will benefit those he leaves behind.

Living is a powerful life-affirming drama, delivering a message about what lasts and what one loses if one waits too long to wake up. It plays at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Classic.

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