Set in London in the 1950’s, Williams (Bill Nighy) has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness and been given 6 months to live. Williams has lived all of his life as a civil servant in a planning department and decides to take time off to think about this news. Unable to tell his son, Michael (Barney Fishwick), Williams travels to the coast armed with a supply of sleeping pills to end his life. A chance encounter with Sutherland (Tom Burke) discourages Williams from this course of action and he hands over the pills to Sutherland, who’s having trouble sleeping. Sutherland takes Williams out on the town for a night of drinking and fun but Williams decides that he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his time in this way.
When he returns to London, Williams befriends the young Margaret Harris (Aimee Lou Wood) from accounts. Margaret represents to Williams all that is youthful and full of life. Margaret inspires Williams to return to his job and complete a project to build a playground that had been sidelined for some time. In so doing, he sets an example to his work colleagues to get things done.
Terminal illness; death and dying
There’s no violence in Living.
Living has some sexual references. For example:
- Williams and Sutherland go to a strip club.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Living has some substance use. For example:
- Most characters smoke.
- Williams and Sutherland get drunk on their night out.
- Drinking is shown at various venues, including at home, at bars, and at work.
- Sleeping pills are offered to someone to help them sleep.
Nudity and sexual activity
Living has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, at the strip club a woman undresses down to her underwear. She dances provocatively and then takes her bra off – shown from behind.
There’s no product placement in Living.
Living has some coarse language. For example, ‘bugger’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Living is an uplifting drama about death and dying, the meaning of life and how we should use our time wisely. It also celebrates youth and the memory of what it’s like to be alive at a young age. The movie is very slow moving and reminds us what life was like in the 1950s. Because the movie has adult themes it’s best suited to mature audiences.
The main messages from Living are to not shy away from our responsibilities and to get things done.
Values in Living that you could reinforce with your children are modesty, empathy, appreciation of other’s efforts, and persistence.
Living could also give you the chance to talk with your children about attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:
- making the most of the time we have while we’re alive, and leaving a worthwhile legacy.
- encouraging frank and honest discussions about difficult topics.