Inspiring British drama reflects on meaning of life.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Living is a tender British drama that's about a man with a terminal illness but remains wholly uplifting in its own, subtle way. When Mr. Williams (Bill Nighy) is told he has less than a year to live, he begins to look back on his life and consider what he can do in the time he has left. As he reflects on and regrets letting life pass him by, Williams develops an unlikely friendship with his younger ex-colleague Margaret (Aimee Lou Wood), who inspires him to seize the day. Set in 1950s England, Williams' office is largely male dominated, and characters are seen smoking at work and at pubs. There is also drinking, mostly in moderation, although in one scene, two men get very drunk. There is a non-explicit conversation where a character suggests they considered ending their own life by taking sleeping pills. A funeral takes place, and there is a brief reference to a dead spouse, but there is no violence or strong language to speak of. The film is a remake of acclaimed Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru.
quiet British redemption
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What's the Story?
LIVING is the story of Mr. Williams (Bill Nighy), a man who has become trapped in the monotonous clockwork of everyday life, lacking inspiration in a postwar world. When he discovers he is terminally ill, he confronts his past and seeks to salvage what he has left of his future. He befriends his ex-colleague Margaret (Aimee Lou Wood), and her youthful vibrancy and zest for life rubs off on him. He realizes that before he dies, he wants to do something meaningful, something he can be remembered for.
Is It Any Good?
This moving British drama is standing on the shoulders of cinematic royalty, as an English-language remake of Akira Kurosawa's critically acclaimed Ikiru. Thankfully Living more than holds its own. Put together in the most beautiful way by South African filmmaker Oliver Hermanus, the director captures the clockwork synchrony of everyday life, and yet does so with such passion. The lighting, the tonality -- it's truly sumptuous cinema, and manages to be so beautiful despite the mundaneness it depicts. But then that's the point and the takeaway message: that we should all try to find the beauty in the monotony of our lives, as our hero, Nighy's Mr. Williams, tries to do as he approaches the end of his life.
What transpires is a tender film, a warm production that manages to stay on the right side of sentimentality throughout. What helps is the absorbing central performance from Nighy. In what's arguably a career-best performance from him, he's matched at every turn by the charming Wood as Margaret, Williams' ex-colleague and the film's inspiration.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what Living had to say about life. What lessons did Mr. Williams learn? What did he do with these lessons? What did you take away from the film? How to talk to kids about difficult subjects.
Discuss the character of Margaret. How did she inspire Mr. Williams? Would you describe her as a positive role model? What makes a good role model?
How were drinking and smoking depicted in the film? Were they glamorized? How has our behavior when it comes to drinking and smoking changed from when the movie was set?
Living is an English-language remake of a Japanese film. What other remakes have you seen? How did they compare?
- In theaters: December 23, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: March 3, 2023
- Cast: Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp
- Director: Oliver Hermanus
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship, History
- Character Strengths: Curiosity
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some suggestive material and smoking
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: March 15, 2023
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