Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

Queerguru reviews Bill Nighy’s award-worthy performance in LIVING directed by Oliver Hermanus

It is quite rare for any established ‘character actor’ to be given a starring role in films, but at aged 73 Bill Nighy finally got his chance and was rewarded with an Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor.  It is not as though he has been idle up to now and his stage, TV, and film work resulted in 2 Baftas, a Golden Globe, and several Critics Awards.

Living is a rather melancholic tale that strikes you as quintessentially British but is in fact scripted by and based on Kurosawa’s classic film Ikiru. It’s directed by the openly gay South African filmmaker Oliver Hermanus who previously helmed the Queer Palm Winner  Skoonheid aka Beauty plus Moffie.

Set in post-WW2 London in the 1950s’  Nighy plays Mr. Williams a very glum-looking bureaucrat who heads up a Department in London’s County Hall.  Every desk there is piled with papers and files which never ever decrease in number.  It seems most Departments spend their days passing the buck and when a file is refused by everybody else Mr. Williams sighs and says “We can keep it here for now.  It can do no harm.”  The  group of local women who have been petitioning to build a playground on a bombsite has to leave empty-handed and dejected yet again.

Willams daily routine, and those of his staff who respectfully treat him like a demi-God, is set to a rigid timetable from the exact same train he commutes to work to every other part of his very regulated day.   He shares his house in the suburbs with his married son and wife since he was widowed.  They have been  polite and cordial to each other for so long,  the conversation is kept to a bare minimum

Then one afternoon on a visit to his Doctor, Williams learns he has terminal cancer and only a few weeks to live.  He keeps this information to himself and he feels a desperate urge to make the most of whatever time he has left.  The problem he has no idea how to ‘live a little’.   After all this is the 1950’s and even if Williams had close friends, this was not the era where people ‘shared’  or ‘off-loaded’ their problems..

So he skips work and heads for a  day by the seaside and falls in with Sutherland (Tom Burke) a  local writer who takes him on a pub/club crawl and Williams starts to unwind.  Back in London the next day he has a chance encounter with Miss Margaret Harris (Aimee Lou Wood) who had left his employ for a new job at a Lyons Corner House.

When they worked together there barely spoke with each other, but now Williams is impressed by the young woman’s energy and passion for life. They start a very casual and innocent friendship and have lunch and even go to the cinema together.  This new unlikely attachment spurs Willaims to re-think about throwing his weight around back in the Office and getting that playground built.

Suddenly the humorless Williams is spurred on with a purpose other than work it may seem too little too late, but his change of attitude to life may not have created any impact on his son, but his work colleagues take heart from it.  Suddenly their respect goes beyond the required one of boss and staff to suddenly respecting the fact he was setting an example for them to incorporate in their own lives

This movie could only have been made with Nighy and he made is such a sheer joy to watch His finely nuanced performance is the result of  all those years of a fine body of work  and so worthy of the Academy Award that it has been nominated for.

Living has been released by Sony Pictures and is now playing in movie theaters


Review : Roger Walker-Dack

Editor in Chief : Queerguru 
Member of G.A.L.E.C.A. (Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association) and NLGJA The Association of LGBT 
Journalists. and The Online Film Critics Society. Ex Contributung Editor The Gay Uk & Contributor Edge Media 
Former CEO and Menswear Designer of  Roger Dack Ltd in the UK    
one of the hardest-working journalists in the business' Michael Goff of Towleroad


Posted by queerguru  at  14:18


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