“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?” “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.” 

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy





However it ends, it's...Still Life

Amanda Collins

Still Life - a thought-provoking film

Still Life - a thought-provoking film

You've probably seen the tremendous Eddie Marsan before. He's Simon Pegg's car salesman buddy in The World's End. He's Inspector Lestrade in Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. He won a BAFTA for his role as Reg in Vera Drake. He's the kind of guy who crops up in lots of places, and afterwards, you go "I think I've seen him before". Well, this time, you'll most definitely remember him.

Eddie Marsan plays the very formal, very correct Mr May. He works for the council, in a role which is very much his vocation. From his spartan basement office, he manages the funerals and contacts the next of kin of the people who die alone in his borough. After more than two decades, he is made redundant, and we follow him through what is essentially his last case, seeking out next of kin for a neighbour he never met.

This is a film peopled as much by the dead as it is by the living. It's a film full of quirky characters, many of whom we never get to meet, only to hear about. There are some gorgeous cinematic tweaks, too, like the tiny moments when Mr May 'lets his hair down'. Uberto Pasolini has made such a lovely film, where the story is told through the sounds and sights as much as through the cast.

The soundtrack is gorgeous - sometimes letting the silences speak for themselves, sometimes just a sweet melody with variations, by Rachel Portman.

This is one of those films that will stay with you and have you re-think your humanity. My cine-buddy and I found ourselves recounting bits on the tram home - and then suddenly we were both in tears. 

This film has already won a slew of awards, including Best Actor at the 2014 Edinburgh Film Festival. I daresay there will be more. It's just. That. Good.

Death is the one thing nobody gets to avoid - and the dignity and gravitas that Eddie Marsan brings to Mr May show us just how death is meant to be approached, whether one is surrounded by loved ones or all alone and managed by council.

Go and see this wonderful film. Take your friends. And take plenty of tissues.