Our review of the film ‘Living’

Image of Bill Nighy doffing his cap on the poster for the film Living. We found it highly life affirming.

After we heard such good things about it, we decided to see it for ourselves and breakdown what makes ‘Living’ so life affirming.

Director: Oliver Hermanus

Featuring: Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp, Tom Burke. 


Synopsis: After decades of humdrum monotony, Mr. Williams’ retirement was shaken by a devastating diagnosis: terminal cancer with just one year left to live. Suddenly realising that life had passed him by, only now does Williams’ recognise life’s true value.  

Despite limited time, and after a period of self reflection and booze fuelled fun.  Williams decides to make the most of the time he left.  With a newfound fervour for making an impactful contribution, and motivated by Margaret’s (William’s young assistant) spirit, Williams returns to work re-invigorated, setting out on a mission, to build the children’s playground for which local mothers fought tirelessly against bureaucratic roadblocks, which gives him a newfound purpose.

What makes Living so life affirming?

Takeaway One: the difference between living and living well

As the film’s title suggests, Living explores the real meaning of that word. We watch as Williams discovers the difference between ‘simply living and living well.

Williams reflects on his life to date, coming to realise how much time he’s devoted to a job from which he has become completely disengaged. By contrast, by learning of his impending death, he has greater insight into the things that really do matter to him.

Takeaway Two: there’s no perfect moment to talk about death

Williams seeks to find ways to talk about death, longing for that ever-elusive ‘right time’ – the perfect moment which never materialises. The story is told with compassion and honesty, exploring themes of family connection in difficult times.

Image of Bill Nighy doffing his cap on the poster for the film Living. We found it highly life affirming.

This is a really remarkable film that whilst gentle, tackles the themes of life and death head on. Too often we lose touch with what it means to live a full and meaningful life. 

Highly recommended

What next?

Read our other reviews of death-related media or why not download our life-affirming app?