NZIFF Review - Still Life
The wonderful Eddie Marsan stars in this beautifully poignant drama.
Marsan is John May, a quietly unassuming man who's spent his 22 years at the South London council trying to help those who've died alone. His job is finding next of kin and trying to get them to funerals that he's organised. But in many cases, there is nobody - so John is the one who stands there alone, writing eulogies and farewelling those who have moved on.
But, despite the thoroughness and the attention to detail with which he runs his world, the council decides his job is no longer necessary and makes him redundant. He's given three days to close his last case - and prepare for the inevitable...
Still Life is an utterly wonderfully English film that reeks of sentiment and heart. thanks to the carefully measured and precise performance delivered by Marsan. Each case is meticulously investigated and every lead pursued with the forensic precision of a criminal investigator. With his gentle touch, nuanced performance and ensuring every single moment counts, Marsan is a tragic joy to watch in this. Every sequence with him aches with pathos and heart - and it's all down to the work done by Eddie Marsan.
While the investigation of the last case perhaps inevitably heads toward a saccharine conclusion, it still doesn't lose any of its power and certainly the last act had me wiping away a tear as the speeches, reflections and observations on life continue to hit him time and time again. It's also the eye for the details as well which hit perfectly - from a flat of the deceased that's got drying laundry hanging from everywhere to a head impression in a pillow which will no longer be used, every last moment is perfectly positioned and executed.
"You're a rare thing, Mr May" is one of the lines uttered in this piece, and it could be said of Eddie Marsan, who delivers an unassuming tour de force in this. Recommended as a reminder why life counts and why the small man is an ambition to aim for.