“Still Life” lends unique spin to banal concept

By Mary Ann Odete

Via Palace Films

Director/writer Uberto Pasolini offers up a tale about searching for fulfillment in life. “Still Life” explores this concept by focusing on an average man working in the English bureaucracy — no family, no friends, John May’s days are taken up with his work: dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s for every deceased person who does not have someone to organize their funeral. Considered too expensive (he always arranges a burial with a ceremony no matter how many people are predicted to attend), John is fired and told to complete his last assignment promptly.

“Still Life’s” performances truly allow the project to shine. Eddie Marsan (“Ray Donovan,” “Sherlock Holmes”) gives a great performance as John May. There are times when the eccentricities that John possesses seem to be exaggerated to the extent that they feel unnecessary, but this does not take away from the film. Marsan gives a noteworthy performance. Joanne Froggatt (“Filth,” “Downton Abbey”), who plays Kelly Stoke, the daughter of John’s final case, presents the audience with an equally formidable performance.

“Still Life” does not offer anything new on the subject of fulfillment. It shows the life of a very closed-off man who, after actively asserting himself in the world, begins to find the joys that life can give to those who engage with it. However, Pasolini’s vision of this journey gives it more depth. He chooses a profession that most people do not think much about — the people in charge of putting to the rest those who do not have anyone else. He interjects light comedy into the drama, but does not go as far as to make it a dark comedy — while there is levity, there is also heaviness.

Unlike the rest of the film, the ending feels abrupt and awkward. The movie only runs a little over an hour and a half and adding a few more minutes certainly wouldn’t have been a misstep. Overall “Still Life” is a movie worth seeing.

Mary Ann Odete is a contributing writer. Email her at film@nyunews.com.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s