Tuesday 7 March 2023

Ikiru (1952) and Living (2022)

Living is a 2022 remake of Kurosawa 1952 film called Ikiru starring Bill Nighy playing the same white-collar worker for the local council, stuck in his patterns of behaviour as was Takashi Shimura in the original.

Both actors play the part perfectly, the difference being that the whole scenario is moved to 1950's London in the remake rather than Japan in the first. Our central character (Kanji Watanabe and Mr Williams) learns early on in the film that he has cancer and limited time. He decides to get up from his desk and disappear, looking for some meaning in his last days, seeking out the fun which he'd, for so long, denied himself - but also, eventually, something worthwhile to make a difference with his time left.

He buddies up with a drinking partner initially and lives a little of the high-life, but then bumps into a girl who works in his office. He confides in her. He becomes infatuated with her youth, fun, opportunity for living. Tongues wag, but there's nothing here for them to wag about.

We spend much time with the pair as they spend theirs together - having fun, but he, also taking stock of his life and the meaning of existence. Bill Nighy is such a good actor that he can turn even a slow drama into something gripping - and he shines here. As did Shimura.

Aimee Lou Wood is very good in support as the colleague as is Alex Sharp as the newbie employee lurking around the fringes of the story. There's much to enjoy about the 1950's sets and scene for those who can remember it, along with the same era's seaside resorts and tea rooms. The mono Ikiru presents a much darker, more bleak Tokyo of the 1950's, but then the film was made back at the time.

Both films are slow dramas, but compelling studies of a quiet man looking into himself and contemplating the meaning of life as his draws to a close. Moving at times, funny too, always engaging - highly recommended.

Living is just arriving on streaming services in the UK and Ikiru, I'm not sure! I watched it while back when someone posted the whole film to YouTube but I don't see it there now. BFI seem to have it.

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