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Living: I can’t say enough good things about this Bill Nighy gem that’s now on Netflix

Published Jun 7th, 2023 2:07PM EDT
Bill Nighy
Image: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

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If you missed Living, Billy Nighy’s captivating, contemplative gem of a movie that debuted in theaters late last year and earned him a Best Actor Oscar nod, here’s your chance to rectify that mistake.

The drama, which Netflix added just days ago and comes from a screenplay penned by Kazuo Ishiguro, presents Nighy as a lonely public sector bureaucrat in 1950s London living a monotonous and uninspired existence. His days are demarcated by piles of paperwork and sending permit-seekers and all other manner of supplicants and queries to someone else’s department — anything to avoid sticking his own neck out and to keep the drip, drip, drip of the office’s monotony humming along.

A sudden terminal cancer diagnosis, meanwhile, threatens to permanently interrupt his carefully constructed life of routine and order and sends him racing in his final days to embrace the one thing he’s neglected for so long: Actually living.

I saw the movie in the theater last year and am so glad I did. There’s a Remains of the Day feel to some of it, given the way that Ishiguro makes regret and looking back over one’s life so central to the story — to such a degree that it can take your breath away, if you let it. “I wonder if you ever stop on the way home and watch the children playing. In the street, or in the yard,” Nighy’s character, Rodney Williams, says at one point in Living.

“And when the time comes and their mothers call them in, they’re often reluctant. They, they get a little contrary. But that’s as it should be. Far better than to be the child you occasionally see, he’s sitting by himself in the corner not taking part, not happy, not unhappy. Merely waiting for his mother to call him in. I’ve become afraid that I might end up like that child. And I so very much do not wish to do so.”

I don’t want to spoil the final act, but I’ll just say that Mr. Williams — rather than waiting around for the inevitable — decides to spend his remaining days on something worthwhile, selfless, and bigger than himself. Living is definitely worth seeking out on Netflix if you’re looking for a heartfelt meditation on life, purpose, and making the most of what little time we have to accomplish something meaningful and important.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.