With grace and subtlety, actor Bill Nighy takes steps to expand living. In their movie Living, Nighy and director Oliver Hermanus spring from the film To Live by cinema legend Akira Kurosawa, reaching out to an English-speaking audience. Transferring action to London with no need for subtitles, their remake nonetheless qualifies as an art film following a leisurely pace with a low-key story about a man discovering one way to give his life meaning.
Though many viewers know Nighy best for blustery roles like his Pirates of the Caribbean turn as Davy Jones or as the fading rock-n-roll star in Love, Actually, the actor’s long career gives him plenty of experience with less showy characters, and he perfectly homes in on the nuances of a sad man who abruptly changes his life course. He shifts without drastic action, resulting in a sweet, life-affirming tale that comes from living.
The more crowd pleasing and Hollywood approach to a similar conceit happens with yet another remake. A Man Called Otto rises from a 2016 Swedish film about a grumpy guy with neighbors who step into improve his life. The movie’s big selling point also proves a weakness: star Tom Hanks.
Hanks can scowl and grimace all he wants, but no one grounded in America’s Dad believes for a minute that this man will stay in a bad mood. Of course, Hanks plays the feel-good card, mixed with comic moments, sentimentality, and a cute cat. Cat or not, both movies emphasize that living improves by interacting warmly with others.