Actor Eddie Marsan is the steady, purposeful centre of this poignant, slightly stylised drama about a council worker whose job – locating the relatives of the unclaimed dead – is his strongest connection to the living.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
Still Life is a poignant drama about a lonely, sweetly idealistic man who finds fulfilment in helping everyone but himself. For over 22 years, life for the unassuming John May (an unforgettable performance from the ever-watchable Eddie Marsan) has been his work for a South London local council, finding the next of kin of those in the borough who have passed away alone. But in an age of government cuts, John’s patient dignifying of the deceased is deemed redundant. Abruptly advised of his retirement, John pursues his final assignment: a search for the relatives of an elderly neighbour. Piecing together the dead man’s past, John uncovers a life of misadventure, love and regret – and an abandoned daughter, fetchingly played by Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey). As a friendship blossoms, John’s outlook opens imperceptibly to fresh possibilities. Proceeding in a measured pictorial style that mirrors its protagonist (and its title), Still Life is a meticulously fabricated valentine to John’s forlorn, noble pursuit of meaningful community. It’s a striking second film for Uberto Pasolini, the London-based Italian filmmaker, best known as producer of The Full Monty.