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Oliver Hermanus
Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp
Writing Credits:
Kazuo Ishiguro

In 1950s London, a humorless bureaucrat decides to take time off work to experience life after receiving a grim diagnosis.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$22,784 on 3 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.48:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Chinese Simplified
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:
Chinese Simplified

102 min.
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 4/11/2023

• “A Life Semi-Lived” Featurette
• Trailer & Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Living [Blu-Ray] (2022)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 11, 2023)

1951’s Ikiru stands as one of Akira Kurosawa’s best-regarded films. The story earns an English remake via 2022’s Living.

Set in London circa 1953, widower Mr. Williams (Bill Nighy) toils away in the same monotonous civil service job he’s maintained for decades. He lives with son Michael (Barney Fishwick) and daughter-in-law Fiona (Nichola McAuliffe), both of whom seem concerned with little more than their future inheritance.

When Williams learns he suffers from terminal cancer, he decides to alter his life. In particular, he feels compelled to use his place as a government employee to help where he can.

Given both offered English-language adaptations of foreign films that concentrated on older characters who go through major changes late in life, it became inevitable to compare Living with 2022’s A Man Called Otto. However, these two don’t offer much in common beyond superficial similarities.

Otto largely provides a comedy with melodrama along the way. On the other hand, Living delivers much more of a straight drama.

And it's much better. Otto becomes enjoyable but it tends to feel like "Hollywood Product".

There’s nothing wrong with that. Movies that stick with a well-defined genre feel can become highly enjoyable despite their lack of inventiveness.

But Living winds up as something wholly different, mainly because it doesn't overtly push emotional buttons at every turn. Most films of this sort demand that the viewer must feel This Way or That Way every minute on screen, but Living offers a substantially more subtle turn.

That makes it much more honest and affecting. I enjoyed Otto well enough but it never got to me emotionally, mainly because it so obviously wanted me to feel one way or another.

Living offers a slow burn. Because I never saw Ikiru, I went into the movie with literally no idea what it was about. I knew it was a period drama of some sort and Bill Nighy starred in it, but beyond that, I entered cold.

This meant that yes, the movie could feel a little slow at times, mainly because I had no idea where it planned to go in terms of plot - or even character focus. The first act sets up new employee Mr. Wakeling (Alex Sharp) as the likely protagonist but that shifts before too long.

We get the reveal of Mr. Williams' illness pretty early, so the whole story becomes about his reaction, and that's where the movie shines. Unlike more maudlin movies, Living never asks us to feel sorry for him, and he doesn't make some major, massive character change at the drop of a hat.

Instead, Mr. Williams evolves slowly, and Nighy plays the role beautifully. He never begs the audience to love him - or even care about him - so Mr. Williams becomes a natural outgrowth of the "Mr. Zombie" persona whose growth feels wholly believable. I remain disappointed he didn’t receive the Oscar for his stellar performance.

The whole narrative develops in a way that maintains surprises along with realistic characters and a real emotional punch. I got choked up more than a few times, and that wouldn't have happened with a more "in your face" melodrama.

Living provides the kind of movie I don't always like, and I initially felt a little put off by its stylistic "Let's Pretend to Be a Movie from 1953" pretensions. It uses an unusual aspect ratio and it wants to evoke that era.

But it won me over. It's a little gem that seems likely to stick with you well after the credits end.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D

Living appears in an aspect ratio of 1.48:1 on this Blu-ray Disc – yes, 1.48:1, as odd as that might be. Quirky aspect ratio or not, the movie offered a fine transfer.

Overall definition seemed positive. Virtually no softness materialized, so the movie appeared accurate and concise.

I noticed no signs of jaggies or edge haloes, and shimmering was absent. The film lacked print flaws and seemed clean.

Many period pieces opt for subdued palettes, and that was true here. The colors tended toward teal and amber tones that appeared fine within the film’s stylistic choices.

Blacks seemed dark and tight, and shadows demonstrated good clarity. This added up to a satisfying presentation.

A character drama wouldn’t seem to be a candidate for a whiz-bang soundtrack, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Living fell into expected realms. A few scenes – mainly streets, trains or seaside – used the various channels well. Usually the track remained oriented toward ambience, though, so don’t expect lots of sizzle from the mix.

Audio quality satisfied. The music was full and rich, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy.

Speech – obviously an important factor here – appeared concise and crisp. Nothing here soared, but it all seemed perfectly adequate for the project.

Called A Life Semi-Lived, a featurette spans four minutes, 37 seconds. It involves comments from screenwriter Kazuo Ishihguro, director Oliver Hermanus, producer Stephen Woolley, and actors Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, and Alex Sharp.

“Life” covers story/characters, the source film’s adaptation, cast and performances, and period details. Expect a lot of promotional fluff and only minor insights.

The disc opens with ads for Return to Seoul, One Fine Morning, The Son, Mothering Sunday and The Phantom of the Open. We also find the trailer for Living.

It can seem like a mistake to remake a classic, but Living more than succeeds on its own. Deep, inspiring and emotional, the film soars. The Blu-ray provides excellent visuals, acceptable audio and negligible bonus materials. Living becomes a memorable human tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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