Stars: Billy Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Tom Burke, Adrian Rawlings
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when this adaptation of Kurosawa classic ‘Ikiru’ was announced. Thankfully, this reimaging boasts an intelligent, if slightly mannered, script from author Kazuo Ishiguro, and crucially a commanding central performance from Bill Nighy. He is Mr Williams, a taciturn widower and civil servant who lives his life governed by a strict routine. His life is upended when he receives some shocking news, so he decides radical change is warranted. First, he makes his way to the coast where he momentarily falls in with the rueful bohemian Sutherland (Burke). On returning to London, Williams begins to spend time with colleague Margaret (Sex Education’s Aimee Lou Wood), a young woman patronised by the otherwise all-male workers. At times, the 50s London-setting, with its emotionally-repressed bowler-hatted drones, forthright office gels, and friendly reassuringly-accented bobbies, veers close to Harry Enfield pastiche. Still, Nighy manages to locate some emotional truth and moments of grace in his performance and cinematographer Jamie Ramsay’s grey and silver-hued images are suitably autumnal.
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