TIFF 2022: “Living”

© Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We don’t know what we would do if we learn we have much time left to live. It’s like living in a state of mind that death will never hunt us down. But it does eventually. Some learn sooner, some never get a chance to say goodbye. But the point is, what would we do if we learn about our imminent departure? Would we do something good? Keeping things in order?

Mr Williams (Bill Nighy) is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Cancer quickly spreads and he decides to keep it to himself. Being a public servant, the man would always delay any request concerning the public, such as building a playground for kids, under the rug. It would do no harm if we work on it some other time, he would say. But when he learns about cancer, he begins to see things from a different perspective and delaying things like constructing a playground is no longer an option.

Sometimes it is good to be reminded that not everything is about us; our needs, desire, self-perception and self-importance. We do think small of others and put our needs above everything else. But when Mr Williams, who has always been a composed and reserved man, realizes the little time left for him, he begins to learn to live, not just for himself, but for others too. It was a matter of myself or them. My life over theirs. It was a dilemma of a lifetime the man had to face, eventually making the right decision – what was for the best.

Adapted from the original screenplay by Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru, director Olivier Hermanus delivers a touching drama with a subtle concept, Thanks to Bill Nighy’s performance, who does the right justification to it. It’s a moving story of kindness, life and death and the choices we should make that can and will eventually impact others. The story teaches us to be good, kind and gentle towards others. Indeed, we must not forget to live for ourselves, but we should make the same life we wish for us for others too. And for that, we don’t need to wait for a call from the doctor or get into some sort of accident to realize that. The time to live is now. And “Living” is quite good at explaining that.

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