Saturday, 7 July 2018

Still Life

Eddie Marsan (The Illusionist, Mission Impossible 3, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) is John May, a council worker in London who's job it is to track down the families of people who have died alone, in order to make sure they know about the death and to give them the opportunity of being involved in post-death arrangements. It's a thankless task, generally, which usually ends up with him being the sole attender at many a funeral. This delightful British film gives a glimpse into how this dull, single and isolated man's life could have been injected with some meaning and purpose, with just a tincture of fantasy.

He's about to be laid off from his job due to departmental cuts, but his last case enables him to go on a journey of discovery, exploration and liberation from his dour existence. He meets richly interesting and diverse characters as he tracks down the daughter of the dead man played by Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey, Filth, Life on Mars).

It's a slow-paced and quiet little film which needs to be endured in places for the rich outcomes it offers, exploring loneliness, boredom, isolation, hope, goodness and compassion. It's beautifully shot with lingering studies of human behaviour and thoughtfulness, often bereft of dialogue. The music, where silence is broken, is poignant and fits the feel and theme nicely. A true gem of a film which I think slipped under many a radar, which is worth seeking out.

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