Writer Kazuo Ishiguro and producer Steven Woolley, both prodigious talents and hugely respected are also devout cineastes and apparently often discuss their favourite and usually quite obscure or long forgotten films. It’s the sort of conversation that perhaps only Tarantino could easily slip into whilst the rest of us ponder the obscure titles. One of those films was ‘Ikiru’ a 1952 film from the late Japanese auteur Akira Kurusawa whose films included Seven Samurai, Rashomon and The Hidden Fortress all hugely influential films to directors such as Scorsese..
Its story of man who is prompted into find meaning in his life after a terminal diagnosis is as relevant today as it was then perhaps even more so with a generation glued to their phones oblivious to the world around them. Ishiguro set about writing the script, a script that resonated deeply with Bill Nighy when approached to play the lead role of a bureaucrat in the same predicament as that of the original film
It is undoubtedly the best performance of Bill Nighy’s already glittering career in a film that is both profound and profoundly affecting. Nighy himself has gone on record speaking about how we all procrastinate never getting on to do what we should do instead distracted by the minutiae of essentially the inconsequential. South African director Oliver Hermanus saw the film’s theme as ‘death affirming life’ with all of us wrapped up in digital media wasting out time looking at some influencer wasting their life and our time with vacuous narcissistic posts. That we never live in the moment is best seen at gigs where so many of the audience attend only to watch the band on the mobile phone that they’re filming it on.
The Living blu-ray / DVD disc is a little light on bonus features with only interviews featuring Hermanu,s Ishiguro , Nighy and his co-star Aimee Lou Wood but each one is very good giving a further insight into the film. In fairness the interviews are enough because Living as a drama has universally important theme and is so well written , performed and directed that its message is clear and is almost a call to action for anyone that sees it.
For us Living was the best film of 2022 immensely moving, poignant and life changing with its message to live your life and be able to look back on having done something with it. It is exquisitely summed up when Nighy’s character asks, ‘ To what end do you direct your daily efforts?’
We chatted with director Oliver Hermanus about the film and what went on behind the scenes….
Living is on digital 3rd March and Blu-ray & DVD on 13th March 2023