Movie Review: Living

One of the 10 Oscar-nominated movies for 2022 was the movie “Living”. The star of this film, Bill Nighy was rightfully nominated for best actor. The good news about Living is that it is an actual, normal, rather old-style movie. It has a screenplay, a plot, a story, a beginning, middle, and end, and an actual important message about life. Considering some of the insane movies that came out in 2022, it was good to see a normal film be both nominated and appreciated for its quality.

The story of Living is about the necessity of human beings to get up in the morning, go to work (no matter how much they hate their jobs), and then make a living. Living anywhere costs money, buying food, having a car, health costs, and education. It is staggering how much so many things that are considered basic necessities of life, actually cost. It should not be this way, but it is – it’s called Living. The main message of this very good movie is all about the realities of time, the day-by-day repeating grind, and what all of us have to do in this life to survive.

The main character of this story Mr. Williams, played by Bill Nighy, is a dedicated civil servant who works in a very crowded, paper-filled, and depressing office in London, in the 1950s. One of the best things about this movie is the extremely stark depiction of real-life of working in a crowded office, sitting down all day surrounded by huge stacks of papers. In the 1950s, long before the invention of desktop computers and laptops the clutter and piles of paper are overwhelming.

From some flashbacks, Mr. Williams lost his wife some time ago, but life goes on, he still must make a living. There is no escape from his job, just because his wife died. There are references throughout this story about how time seems to fly by, because of necessity that includes the repeated ritual of sitting in the same office all day, making money so you can survive.

Halfway through this story, Williams receives a terminal Cancer diagnosis and realizes that because his time on Earth is so short, sitting in an office, waiting to die is no longer an option. Mr. Williams takes time off work and tries to understand the meaning of the remaining days of his life, including getting a playground built in a lot adjacent to the office building where he works.

A secondary story involves a light romantic relationship that Williams has with a much younger employee in his office, but due to the major age difference, nothing comes from this relationship other than a friendship. For me, the main message in this story is that once you know you have a very limited number of days to live, the mundane repeated rituals of making money – become meaningless very quickly.

I thought the acting throughout this film is outstanding, starting with Bill Nighy, whose very calm and subtle portrayal gave him a very deserved best actor nomination.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this film is a very high 96% and I agree with this number and highly recommend this movie.

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