Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Alex Sharp

QuickView: Living (2022)

“I don’t have time to get angry.”


In its moving simplicity, Ikiru is probably my favourite of Akira Kurosawa’s films. Adapting the screenplay 70 years later, Kazuo Ishigura has shifted the setting to London but opted to stay in the same 1950s post-war era. In fact the opening credits could deceive one into thinking that Living was made in the 50s, though it subsequently retains only the antiquated aspect ratio. The period makes sense for Nighy’s particular breed of gentleman civil servant, dutifully slowing down progress (“We can keep it here. It can do no harm.”) and distanced from those with whom he lives by a familial inability to communicate. Ikiru’s themes are all on display: the failure of bureacracy, the search for meaning in life, and the revitalising freedom of being faced with one’s mortality. After receiving his diagnosis, Williams’ ruminations are shown as memories bleeding through from black and white into colour, and he finds the liberation of inebriation brings only exhaustion. Aimee Lou Wood translates the charm she displayed on Sex Education to the big screen as Mr Williams’ youthful colleague who serves as the catalyst for his redemptive work. Her guileless affection serves as a counterpoint to Nighy’s measured performance, a chilly exterior swiftly giving way to a melancholic warmth, and the film’s success is tied to these performances. Living is such a slavishly faithful adaptation that it has little insight to add to its source material and yet — since so many people will balk at watching at a 70-year-old Japanese film — I cannot fault the creation of this British facsimile that is undoubtedly more palatable to a modern Western audience and nearly as beautiful in the same quiet simplicity.


QuickView: To The Bone (2017)

“I’ve got it under control. Nothing bad’s gonna happen.”


CN: Eating disorders

To The Bone works best as character study of a young woman in recovery for an eating disorder but struggles in its efforts to provide a compelling narrative framework. This is not an enjoyable film to watch, as Lily Collins’ enthralling performance makes it clear that, despite her protestations of control, Ellen is constantly on the verge of tragedy. There is dark humour in Ellen’s cynical attitude and undoubtedly some will perceive this as flippant or exploitative treatment of a serious disorder, though really it comes from grounded realism — indeed both Collins and writer-director, Marti Noxon, bring their own experiences to the project. Undoubtedly the shots of emaciated bodies could be triggering to some, but portrayal of the graphic reality is important to this film; it is not romanticised or fetishised. Noxon works primarily in television and To The Bone is rarely shot in a way that feels particularly cinematic — that works reasonably well within the confines of the group home, but it leaves the wider world feeling cramped. In its desire to be more universally representative, we never really get a sense of where Ellen’s trauma is rooted; the surface references make her seem more self-indulgent, and the sequence as she hits rock bottom feel trite as a result, even as the film successfully avoids feel-good cliché.


QuickView: How To Talk To Girls At Parties (2017)

“How do I further access the punk?”


Neil Gaiman’s short story about adolescent insecurity, with a literal approach to the alien nature of the opposite sex, does not obviously lend itself to a feature-length film. Mitchell’s film draws out every theme available in the story, straddling disparate genres as he presents the 1970s punk scene, a coming-of-age tale about individuality, alien tourism, and a sweet love story. Elle Fanning (still 17 at the time of filming) delivers wonderfully as an alien driven to rebel and experience the world. However, the film’s erratic nature will prove highly divisive. Whether you enjoy the experience will be clear from the titular house party early in the film: either you can embrace its weirdness or it will send you running for the comfort of something saner and more coherent.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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