At the end of Living, I felt not like I’d seen an old favorite in a new light, but like I might want to go back and watch Ikiru again. There are worse outcomes for a remake than reviving affection for the original, or retelling an old story for a new audience that may not have heard it before. There are better ones, too.
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What are critics saying?
The moral of this story is supposed to be shrugged off despite its overwhelming honesty, but Living downplays its drama to such an extent that it can feel as if Hermanus and Ishiguro lacked the nerve to attempt the same trick.
Nighy brings a dignity to the proceedings that you can't help but admire, especially when it comes to Williams' sudden self-awareness in his final days, and that helps keep your attention.
In the end, it’s a stellar turn from Sharp that dots the I’s and crosses the t’s when the tear ducts begin to flow. And you realize how marvelously constructed the whole endeavor is.
A gentle, exquisitely sad film.
Living isn’t nearly as subtle as it purports to be, although it can feel that way, considering how much these characters hold back — and this, one supposes, is what audiences want from an Ishiguro script.
It’s a film that could have so easily smacked of an exercise, but its beauty feels thrillingly natural, and its considerable emotional power is honestly earned.
Bill Nighy brings a quiet dignity to the role of Mr Williams, an anchor of buttoned-up solidity in an old-fashioned weepie which captures the lush sentimental swirl of the original while also evoking a distinctive sense of backdrop and period.