STILL LIFE | MOVIE REVIEW

STILL LIFE is an occasionally teary comedy-drama starring the always amazing Eddie Marsan. It released in Australia briefly and on art-house release in July 2014 and has been touring overseas doing festivals since. This coming week, February 6th, it is finally getting its UK release. In our continuing European pillage and world domination plans we have our next international review from the UK, from our good friend, THE SLOTH from WHATMOVIETHISWEEK.COM. They post Australian movie reviews from us and we post their Euro film reviews. You can see our first Euro review for ELECTRICITY. Enjoy The Sloth’s review….all the best….JK.

 

STILL LIFE MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
STILL LIFE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

When you die, how many people will be at your funeral? That’s an uncomfortable question, isn’t it? We defy you to watch STILL LIFE and not come out feeling just a little bit more insecure about your afterlife than when you went in.

John May (Eddie Marsan) works in Client Services for the London Borough of Kennington. Specifically, he is a caseworker who attempts to trace any relatives or friends for those who have died unnoticed and alone. Visiting homes of the recently deceased, he searches for photographs, letters, anything that could give clues to a wider life. Sometimes he is successful. More often, he is not. A birthday card inscribed ‘to a loving mum’ turns out to be supposedly sent from the deceased’s sole companion, their pet cat, signed with a paw print. For these people John painstakingly arranges respectful funerals, himself the only mourner, selecting music and writing an appropriate and warm eulogy from the information he has gleaned about them.

 

STILL LIFE MOVIE IMAGE
STILL LIFE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | JOHN MAY (EDDIE MARSAN)

 

John is a neat, methodical man of routine and small means. He lives in a scrupulously orderly council flat, peels apples neatly in one long coil and eats a meagre tin of tuna and slice of toast for his dinner. We soon realise John is as alone as the cases he investigates. There is no Mrs John, no friends, no relatives. His own life is seemingly dedicated to putting these fellow lonely souls to rest.

Taking instructions for a new case, Billy Stoke, John is perturbed to discover Billy had lived, unnoticed, in the flat directly opposite him. He’s no sooner taken this in when he’s told he is to be made redundant, as his tasteful burials are costing far more than the cheap cremations arranged by his equivalent department in another London borough. Allowed a final three working days to close Billy’s case, and with his world turned upside down, he lets rip. Well, in John terms.

Realising he needs to start seizing life by the throat, the crazy fool allows himself to be dissuaded by an enthusiastic waitress from his usual austere black tea to the illicit delights of a hot chocolate. And on tracking down Billy’s long lost daughter, Kelly (Joanne Froggatt), he even allows himself a shadow of a smile. Rarely has such a seismic explosion registered so imperturbably on the Richter Scale.

 

STILL LIFE MOVIE IMAGE
STILL LIFE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | JOHN MAY (EDDIE MARSAN)

 

We’ve seen this kind of thing before. The deliberate, slow pace. The slightly quirky oddball character defined by their slightly quirky habits. The rather mannered use of static shots, all austere interiors, impersonal exteriors, characters awkwardly entering and exiting the frame. But STILL LIFE is elevated by a marvellous performance from Eddie Marsan, one of The Sloths’s favourite actors. Through the merest twitch of an eye he hints at the compassion and humanity within the buttoned up John, leaving us rooting for his burgeoning joie de vivre.

STILL LIFE may not be for everyone. It’s a self-consciously melancholic, sad film and a reminder both of the pain of loneliness and our own impending demise. Watch it alone at your peril. We did and we are not prone to being overly-emotional, but the final scenes had us in floods.

 

3 and a Half Pops