Living (2022 film)

Last updated

Living poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Oliver Hermanus
Screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro
Based on
Produced by
Cinematography Jamie D. Ramsay
Edited byChris Wyatt
Music by Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch
Distributed by Lionsgate UK
Release dates
  • 21 January 2022 (2022-01-21)(Sundance)
  • 4 November 2022 (2022-11-04)(United Kingdom)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$10.5 million [1]

Living is a 2022 British drama film directed by Oliver Hermanus from a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro, adapted from the 1952 Japanese film Ikiru directed by Akira Kurosawa, which in turn was inspired by the 1886 Russian novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy. Set in 1953 London, it depicts a bureaucrat in the county Public Works department (played by Bill Nighy) facing a fatal illness.


Living had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival on 21 January 2022, and was released in the United Kingdom on 4 November 2022, by Lionsgate. [2] The film received positive reviews, with Nighy's performance receiving particular acclaim, and at the 95th Academy Awards was nominated for Best Actor (Nighy) and Best Adapted Screenplay.


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 (Lia Williams), 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.



In October 2020, the project was announced with Nobel Prize-winning novelist Ishiguro as screenwriter, and Nighy and Wood attached to star. [3] In December 2020, Lionsgate acquired the UK distribution rights. [4] In June 2021, principal photography began in the UK, Sharp and Burke were announced to have joined the film, and the first image from the film was released. It was also announced that Toho, the distributor of the original film, had acquired the rights for Japan. London's County Hall provided the backdrop for the film; in addition, the film was co-financed through the County Hall Arts charity. [5]


In January 2022, the film premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, where it was announced that Sony Pictures Classics had acquired the distribution rights in North America, Latin America, India, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Germany, South Africa, Southeast Asia and airlines worldwide. [6] Living screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2022 [7] and at the TCL Chinese Theatre as part of the 2022 AFI Fest on 6 November 2022. [8] The film was released theatrically in the United Kingdom on 4 November 2022, and had a limited theatrical release in the United States on 23 December 2022.


On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 96% based on 189 reviews, with an average rating of 8/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Living sets a high bar for itself in setting out to remake a Kurosawa classic—and director Oliver Hermanus and star Bill Nighy clear it in triumphant fashion." [9] On Metacritic, it holds a weighted average score of 81 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". [10]


AwardDate of ceremonyCategoryRecipient(s)ResultRef.
Hollywood Music in Media Awards November 16, 2022 Best Original Score in an Independent Film Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch Won [11]
British Independent Film Awards December 4, 2022 Best British Independent Film Oliver Hermanus, Kazuo Ishiguro, Stephen Woolley, Elizabeth Karlsen Nominated [12]
Best Director Oliver Hermanus Nominated
Best Lead Performance Bill Nighy Nominated
Best Supporting Performance Aimee Lou Wood Nominated
Best Screenplay Kazuo Ishiguro Nominated
Best Casting Kahleen CrawfordNominated
Best Costume Design Sandy Powell Nominated
Best Music SupervisionRupert HollierNominated
Best Production Design Helen ScottWon
National Board of Review December 8, 2022 Top 10 Independent Films LivingWon [14]
Los Angeles Film Critics Association December 11, 2022 Best Lead PerformanceBill NighyWon [15]
Chicago Film Critics Association December 14, 2022 Best Actor Nominated [16]
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association 19 December 2022 Best Actor 4th place [17]
Alliance of Women Film Journalists January 5, 2023Best ActorNominated [18]
National Society of Film Critics January 7, 2023 Best Actor 3rd place [19]
San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle January 9, 2023 Best Actor Nominated [20]
Best Adapted Screenplay Kazuo IshiguroNominated
Golden Globe Awards January 10, 2023 Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Bill NighyNominated [21]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 15, 2023 Best Actor Nominated [22]
Best Adapted Screenplay Kazuo IshiguroNominated
Online Film Critics Society January 23, 2023 Best Actor Bill NighyNominated [23]
London Film Critics' Circle February 5, 2023 Film of the Year LivingNominated [24]
British/Irish Film of the Year Nominated
Actor of the Year Bill NighyNominated
British/Irish Actor of the Year (for body of work) Won
British Academy Film Awards February 19, 2023 Best Actor in a Leading Role Bill NighyNominated [25]
Best Adapted Screenplay Kazuo IshiguroNominated
Outstanding British Film Oliver Hermanus, Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley, Kazuo IshiguroNominated
Satellite Awards March 3, 2023 Best Motion Picture – Drama LivingNominated [26]
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama Bill NighyNominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Kazuo IshiguroNominated
Best Costume Design Sandy PowellNominated
USC Scripter Awards March 4, 2023Best Adapted Screenplay – FilmKazuo IshiguroNominated [27]
Academy Awards March 12, 2023 Best Actor Bill NighyNominated [28]
Best Adapted Screenplay Kazuo IshiguroNominated

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