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By Kate Smith
20th July 2014

Getting a life with the help of the dead. Sound intriguing? A bit odd? 'Still Life” is certainly both those things, but most importantly, also a rather enjoyable watch.

Council worker John May’s (Eddie Marsan, 'Sherlock Holmes') job is to find relatives and organise funerals for those who die alone and forgotten. He’s proud of his job, and devotes all his energies to it. So much so, that he doesn’t have friends, or family of his own, and eats the same meal every evening.

Then his neighbour (Billy, who John has never met) dies, and the file lands on John’s desk. Billy has no one to claim him, and when the council makes John redundant, John is determined that he will do Billy’s memory justice before he leaves.


So begins a journey for John as he traces Billy’s estranged family and friends, eventually meeting Billy’s daughter Kelly (Joanne Froggatt, 'Downton Abbey'), with whom he feels an unexpected bond. The journey brings John out of his own still life, and into the world of the living. The ending of the film is a tad predictable, but it doesn’t detract from the story at all. The message behind the film is as important as John’s personal journey. Who are funerals for? The dead, or those they leave behind?

Who are funerals for? The dead, or those they leave behind?

The performances are all superb, particularly Marsan, whose Mr May is understated and nuanced, and manages to communicate a great deal without saying a word. There isn’t a single player who lets this film down; even the belligerent council boss, Andrew Buchan ('The Great Fire') is perfectly frustrating.

The score is very subtle, and uses incidental music (from the car radio, etc.) where possible. It works well. The use of colour in the film is well done too - greys dominate in the beginning, but as John begins to open up along his exploration into the colourful character of Billy, the film’s palette brightens too. The only fault I found is that there are moments throughout that drag on a little too long. Otherwise, 'Still Life' is a poignant, moving, and thought-provoking film.

RELEASE DATE: 24/07/2014
RUN TIME: 01h 32m
CAST: Eddie Marsan
Joanne Froggatt
Karen Drury
Andrew Buchan
Neil D'Souza
Tim Potter
Michael Elkin
Paul Anderson
Bronson Webb
Lee Nicholas Harris
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Uberto Pasolini
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