Ikiru is a distinct character in Akira Kurosawa's filmography, substituting samurai and Shakespearean power conflicts for a more intimate human drama. But the story of an ailing bureaucrat confronting his mortality by spending his last few months on Earth building a childrens playground is still one of the directors most impactful films, so much that many cinephiles were bound to see any remake as trespassing on sacred grounds.
Bill Nighy takes on the role first played by Takashi Shimura in Ikiru, and while Shimura's performance in the film has earned praise (and early Oscar buzz) for his work on the film.
Nighy is predictably affecting in the lead role of Mr. Williams, a widowed civil servant so calcified by grief that his younger employees assume that he is actually incapable of human emotion; if theyre afraid of him in a way that no one ever was of Shimuras' version, it may be owing to the fact that Williams already speaks in the ghoulish whisper of a spirit communicating from beyond the grave.
Nighy discussed the roles that he believes are important to him in an interview with IndieWire, and the method that he employed in constructing his own version.
Nighy said something unusual in that you get a long role playing someone who is just straightforward and decent. In this case, I also approached him as someone who I feared was institutionalized in sorrow. When his wife died very early on, something was discovered in him.
Oliver Hermanus directs Living, with acclaimed novelist Kazuo Ishiguro adapting Kurosawas original script. Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp, Adrian Rawlins, and Tom Burke star in the film.
On December 23, 2022, Living will be released in theaters. You can see the first teaser here: