Still Life (2015) - Rotten Tomatoes

Still Life (2015)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: Still Life moves with a quiet grace that some viewers may mistake for mannered passivity, but rewards patience with genuine poignancy.

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Life for the unassuming John May (Eddie Marsan Happy-Go-Lucky, "Ray Donovan") has always revolved around his work for the local council in South London, finding the next of kin of those who have died alone. Profoundly dedicated to his work, he believes that everyone deserves a dignified exit, and writes eulogies and organizes funerals for those who wouldn't have them otherwise. But when a new case - an elderly alcoholic in a flat directly opposite his own - hits him harder than usual, he journeys outside London to track down the man's long-abandoned daughter (Joanne Froggatt "Downton Abbey"). Against the odds, the two lonely souls are drawn to each other - and John's outlook starts to open to life's possibilities. (C) Tribeca

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Cast

Eddie Marsan
as John May
Neil D'Souza
as Shakthi
Andrew Buchan
as Council Manager
Michael Elkin
as Caretaker
David Shaw Parker
as Billy Stokes' Caretaker
Tim Potter
as Homeless Man
Bronson Webb
as Morgue Attendant
Leon Silver
as Crematorium Attendant
Lloyd McGuire
as Prison Officer
Wayne Foskett
as Fishmonger
Hebe Beardsall
as Mary's Daughter
Andrew Ashford
as Cemetery Attendant
Mark Oliver
as Unhappy Neighbor
Paddy O'Reilly
as Dog Owner
Rosalie Kosky-Hensman
as Girl at Station
Frankie Wilson
as Young Soldier
Aaron Ishmael
as Factory Worker
Colin Hoult
as Cemetery Manager
Ian Mann
as Priest
Al Cowie
as Priest
Father Theonas
as Eastern Celebrant
Chris W. Hill
as Cemetery Attendant
Mike Ray
as Cemetery Attendant
Terry Nii-Odoi
as Cemetery Attendant
Narinder Pal Guraya
as Office Cleaner
Tim Hope
as Billy Stoke
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Critic Reviews for Still Life

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (11)

This mopey British drama (2013) trades in easy ironies and self-satisfied humanism, throwing in a little ugly-duckling romance.

Full Review… | February 2, 2015
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Marsan's technical precision as an actor is formidable, and he's wonderful to watch. But when the material's synthetic, as it is here, you wish Marsan could bust loose at the expense of the movie's obsessively orderly nature.

Full Review… | January 29, 2015
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

A soulful if obvious meditation on lives lived unshared, and one man's dedication to righting those wrongs while neglecting his own life.

Full Review… | January 22, 2015
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

The film's title says lots about its mood and style, which is heavy on becalmed views of rooms, objects like an apple peel and office utensils, and May's glazed gazes at nothing in particular.

Full Review… | January 16, 2015
RogerEbert.com
Top Critic

Pasolini has a gem in Marsan, a virtuoso actor who plays the role delicately where another might have laid on the pathos too thick.

Full Review… | January 15, 2015
New York Post
Top Critic

You may scold yourself for investing any emotion at all in hokum that even Mr. Marsan, for all his kindly gravity, can't begin to salvage.

Full Review… | January 15, 2015
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Still Life

½

A sweet and simple film about moving on. #stilllife boasts a clever script and an interesting performance from Eddie Marsan, which director Pasolini utilizes to tell a small story that works for what it is.

Nathan Martin
Nathan Martin

A soulful if obvious meditation on lives lived unshared, and one man's dedication to righting those wrongs while neglecting his own life.

Lee Mayo
Lee Mayo
½

"Still Life", if anything, is a wholly one-of-a-kind experience. It didn't particularly make me sad, but it did make me a bit depressed. And, for some strange reason, I was o.k. with that. On first look, this could easily be explained as one of those "nothing happens" movies, but I really think the better name for the type is an "everything happens" movie. Technically, this film is boring/unexciting/whatever you call it precisely BECAUSE too much is going on - too much the average viewer wouldn't care about. Long still shots show council worker John May (Eddie Marsan) organizing his desk, eating a pastry or looking through a photo album. We get to see the little details of May's life we generally wouldn't care to see, and so we get to know a person in his entirety, becoming a part of his lonely existence. The film is full of small, inconsequential events filmed with little manipulation (maybe 2 or 3 pans in the entire film) apart from an apparent dark blue filter to make May's life just that hint more mundane. He is neat, organized, and quiet, and the film channels that with very limited incidental music, dialogue or even background noise besides the totally necessary, and a cold simplicity in shots, with just as many shots used to set the tone as to advance the plot. The plot details May's work for the council as a kind of death detective, who locates the long-lost families of deceased townsfolk who have passed away without leaving any signs of connection to other people. For the most part, he's unsuccessful in finding people related to or friends with the people he represents, so ends up organizing and attending each of their funerals alone. Of course, having that as the entire plot would be even more dull than the film already is, and so a large chunk of the film is devoted to his attempts to locate the daughter of one of his dead clients. He goes around the area discovering old friends and family of the dead guy, eventually unravelling the mystery of his life. This is a mood piece, intended to relay the kindly spirit of a man who's one of a dying breed. May's boss continually comments that his work is worthless - why hold a funeral for someone who won't have any visitors - and a lot of times I was forced to agree. That's kind of why I wasn't sad at any point in this film; I legitimately didn't find his work all that worthwhile until, at least, he managed to start finding the friends and family of his new client. But the film portrays John as a caring and lonely individual, and makes it easy to connect with the man's devotion to his work, however inconsequential. The film of course paints his work as very consequential by the end - an ending I didn't much agree with - but I suppose it's up for you to decide whether or not you do think this kind of work is important. Regardless, "Still Life" is a mesmerizing character study, one that held me under its spell for its entire running time. It's total escapism, transporting you to a world you won't experience anywhere else. Whether or not you agree with the world is up to you, but it's worth taking the plunge.

Cameron Johnson
Cameron Johnson

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