Review – Still Life
Meticulous, tender and deeply affecting, Still Life will move you to tears and keep you thinking long after the credits roll.
In a South London borough, John May’s job is to track down the next of kin of those who have died alone. As the only person left to care for the unloved, Mr May creates a personalised funeral service for each of his clients, complete with eulogy and a song from his extensive collection. These ghosts become not just files, but friends. After 22 years, Mr May is made redundant by an indifferent new boss, and left with one final case – an unknown neighbour, Billy Stoke. His search reveals a life rich with stories, long-lost friends, misadventures, lovers, and an abandoned daughter, Kelly.
As the film unfolds, you discover a man whose empathy is at odds with his disconnected life. He is en route to the same destination as the clients he buries, but Mr May starts to realise that it’s time to change trains.
Director Uberto Pasolini, who produced a very different The Full Monty, delivers a simple but powerful film. Some may find the pace a little slow, particularly at the start, and the almost soundless first half is unsettling. The original premise is intriguing enough to hold your attention though. The deliberate pacing leaves plenty of room to ponder the meaning of life, loss and human connection, which more ruthless editing would detract from.
Well-considered art direction follows Mr May’s journey, from a sparse and muted grey world to one of colour, movement and warmth. The film is brought to life by Eddie Marsan, who gives a measured and resonant performance as John May. Marsan is supported by the lovely Joanna Froggatt, as the warm but solitary Kelly Stoke.
Still Life is a meticulously created film with studious attention to detail and a beautiful aesthetic. See it if you need a good cry and a reminder to spend more time with the people you love.
To be released Thursday 24 July at Palace Nova Cinemas.