‘Living’, an academic and less combative adaptation of Kurosawa’s classic

Living roomeither To liveeither ikiru. Say it in the language you want, in English, Spanish or Japanese, the subject will remain a mystery. Why get up from Monday to Friday and work eight hours in a job that we don’t like and that doesn’t bring us anything? Why create a family, if it will not offer us any comfort? Why exist if when we die there will be no trace of us?

There is nothing like knowing that the routine has an expiration date so that the questions, and the fear, the frustration and the rancor, crowd in the head. In this case, that of the ancient and sad civil servant of London in 1950 named Williams (Bill Nighy), a widower who lets the hours die buried under enormous piles of documents that he does not intend to solve –As Margareth (Aimee Lou Wood) says, if she cleared the table it would seem like she has nothing important to do– and that she doesn’t find support in her relationship with her distant son, who despite living in his own house with his partner is shows distant and cold.

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The news that he has six months to live causes absolute confusion in Williams, which will start a search for meaning. First, by having a good party that will not bring him any real satisfaction, then by falling in love with the company of a young co-worker in whom he believes he finds his lost vitality, and finally, by facing the most feared task for any civil servant: resolving matters. postponed ad infinitum.

a gloomy london

The first British film by South African Oliver Hermanus (Cape Town, 1983), author of prestigious films such as moffie (2019) or Endless River (2015) not too well known in Spain, it is a paragon of virtues in the staging, which recreates in a somber tone the bitterness of post-war London.

Formal decisions such as the commitment to 4:3 or the use of archival material at the start, whose texture tries to emulate the exquisite photographic work with artistic intentions, are also in favor of the work. Not to mention the impeccable work by Bill Nighy (The bookstore2017) in the leading role, so restrained that any unexpected gesture, no matter how small, is capable of transmitting to the viewer the whirlwind of emotions that devastates his character.

However, It is difficult to find something that truly justifies this academic translation of the plot of the classic To live (1952) by Akira Kurosawa to the British environment, since it is not an update (it takes place in the same historical period) since the script of the Nobel Prize winner for Literature Kazuo Ishiguro does not propose any relevant change, although there are small modifications, especially a more lyrical approach to narrative.

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Regarding the original, Living room (which premieres on January 4) It is a more concise film and does not charge so much ink against bureaucracy and politics. And, although it loses comedy, it maintains the emotion in the resolution of the character’s adventures and that bitter vision of the human being in the last sequence. But, if we have to choose, we are left with the version of the master Kurosawa.

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‘Living’, an academic and less combative adaptation of Kurosawa’s classic