We’ve all seen it before, the harsh businessman who lords over his employees that has an impactful moment in his life that changes his attitude. It’s the normal redemption trope and arch that we see throughout literature and movies for as long as stories have been made. While this story type isn’t new, the approach that Living takes to it is.
The movie follows Williams, an older executive at a planning office who gets the news that he has a terminal illness. For years, he’s played the role of the traditional cold British office worker, who really hasn’t had much of a life outside of the office. Disconnected from his own son, he doesn’t tell him about the illness. Instead, he befriends a young entrepreneur at a diner and starts his own journey to start to experience parts of life he hadn’t dared to do before. With that friendship and one he strikes up with one of the female employees from the office, he starts to find out what he had been missing in his life all those years, and tries to leave behind some positivity in his path.
What makes Living so unique is it’s not trying to be anything more than this man finding his own happiness in the end. He goes out of his way to help others and isn’t harmful to anyone along the way. The changes in his life, and his actions, have a ripple effect on his employees and the community around him.
And while Williams is the focus of the movie, his life, and death are only about 2/3rds of the story. There’s no hail Mary at the end saving him, and while you know his death is written – the fact it comes so early in the movie is actually shocking. The rest of the movie actually deals with how his life and his actions changed others and changes the way they are deciding to live their lives. The movie is gentle with the topic, sweet, and a good reminder to viewers that small things have a large impact.
Simply put, Living is a beautiful story of the impact one life can have on others. How even the smallest thing that may seem inconsequential to others can not only change their lives but have an ongoing ripple effect. It is a more gentle approach to the redemption story of the staunch businessman and gives off the feeling that Scrooge could have actually become a better person without the visits from the ghosts. But even deeper than that, it is a good reminder that even the impressions we hold of others are almost never as they seem. That the image that people present of themselves, is not the whole picture, and it’s something that is often missed or forgotten by people that are just on the periphery of their lives.
Living is now playing in select theaters.
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LIVING is the story of an ordinary man, reduced by years of oppressive office routine to a shadow existence, who at the eleventh hour makes a supreme effort to turn his dull life into something wonderful.
Starring Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp, and Tom Burke.