Living (2022)

Tom Burke,Bill Nighy,Aimee Lou Wood,Zoe Boyle
Rodney Williams is a senior London County Council bureaucrat in 1953 London. He sits at his desk surrounded by high piles of paperwork, and seems uninspired. A group of women, led by Mrs Smith, petition the council to have a World War II bomb site redeveloped into a children's playground. They are sent with their petition from department to department but to no avail. Mr Williams receives the petition and adds it to his pile of paperwork, making clear to his colleagues his intention to take no further action. When Mr Williams receives a terminal cancer diagnosis he neglects to tell his son Michael and daughter-in-law, Fiona, instead opting to withdraw half of his life savings, purchase a lethal amount of sleeping medicine, and commit suicide in a seaside resort town. Finding himself unable to go through with it, he gives the sleeping medicine to Mr. Sutherland, an insomniac writer he meets in a restaurant. Moved by Williams' story, Sutherland takes him for a night on the town, where Williams replaces his traditional bowler hat with a fedora. In a pub, he sings "The Rowan Tree," a Scottish folk song from his childhood. Returning to London but not to work, Williams runs into Miss Harris, a former colleague who took up a position at a restaurant while he was away. Williams' nosy neighbor spots the pair having lunch and tells Fiona, who demands Michael speak to his father about the potential scandal. Meanwhile, Williams attempts to tell Michael about his diagnosis, but neither find themselves able to bring up what they need to talk about. As Williams' condition worsens, he attempts to spend more time with Harris, whose youthful vigor he envies and would like to regain before he dies. Realizing the best way to spend his remaining time is to do some good, Williams rallies his office to construct the children's playground. Though he is able to push the process through by standing up to his colleagues and superiors, he dies shortly after construction is finished. At his funeral, well-attended by the people he has helped, Michael guesses to Harris that Williams told her about his diagnosis but not him. Inspired by Williams' actions, his former colleagues pledge to uphold his example, but soon revert to their old ways. Mr. Wakeling, who joined the office shortly before Williams' diagnosis, reads a letter left for him by Williams instructing him to remember the playground when he gets discouraged. Visiting the playground, Wakeling meets a police officer who tells him that he saw Williams there shortly before he died, rocking in the swing in the snow and singing "The Rowan Tree." The constable feels guilty that he let Williams sit in the cold in his condition. Wakeling consoles the officer, saying that Williams was likely happier in that moment than he had been for a very long time.
  • 21 Jan 2022 Released:
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  • Oliver Hermanus Director:
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