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REVIEW: Inverness Film Festival – Living (12A)

By Hector MacKenzie

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4 Stars

FILM buffs kicking themselves for missing the exclusive Inverness Film Festival preview screening of Living didn't have long to wait for its re-appearance at Eden Court.

The heart-tugging, life-affirming English language adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's Ikiru has brought a career best from star Bill Nighy – one which you can can see at the venue now until November 24.

It seems it was written in the stars that this national treasure – perhaps best-known for his role as washed-up singer Billy Mack in the Christmas favourite, Love Actually – would play a part that seems to have been made for him. Word on the street is that the Japanese-born novelist had Nighy in mind for an English adaptation and grabbed the chance to pitch it direct when they happened to share a taxi from a function.

Nighy hadn't heard of the original film, Ikiru, but signed up enthusiastically after he watched it.

True or not, it's a cracking story...

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Nighy is Mr Williams, a bureaucrat stuck in a dull council office job in London in the aftermath of World War II. Widowed and without friends, he leads a quiet, uneventful life of routine, one into which he has fallen without giving it too much thought. He brings a sense of order – if not joy – to the sprawling council office in which cases get shuffled from one filing tray to another with very little sense of urgency.

This dull routine is shaken up when he receives a shattering terminal diagnosis and is faced with confronting his mortality. In echoes of another Christmas classic, It's a Wonderful Life, he decides to change what is left of his life for the better.

In doing so he reaches out to office colleague Miss Harris – sweetly played by Aimee Lou Wood, who will be familiar to anyone who enjoyed the Netflix hit, Sex Education – and begins to discover something of what he has been missing.

A strained relationship with his son provides a heart-tugging sub-plot as both struggle to find the right words to communicate with one another.

He meets a variety of colourful characters along the way, each of whom seems to have something to teach him. And his conscience is pricked to pull a petition for a child's playground out of the filing tray in which it had so long languished as he finds new meaning in what remains of his life.

There are solid supporting turns from Alex Sharp, Adrian Rawlins and Aimee Lou Wood but there's no doubt who the star of the show is.

Living has all the hallmarks of a classic in the making, unfolding at its own gentle pace and unafraid of including the silences which can speak volumes. It's a little dose in cinematic form of what we could all do with at the moment.

Quote: I don't have time to get angry.

On at Eden Court now until November 24.

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