By Don Simpson | January 16, 2015
Director: Uberto Pasolini
Writer: Uberto Pasolini
Starring: Eddie Marsan, Joanne Froggatt, Karen Drury, Andrew Buchan, Neil D’Souza, David Shaw Parker, Michael Elkin, Ciaran McIntyre, Tim Potter, Paul Anderson, Bronson Webb
Throughout its history, British cinema has projected a menagerie of intriguing male faces onto the silver screen. These actors are by no means “Hollywood handsome” — they would most likely never get a starring role in mainstream American cinema — but the Brits seem to have always placed authenticity and talent over beauty in their films. Actors such as Timothy Spall, Toby Jones and Eddie Marsan immediately come to mind; and while this seems like a backhanded compliment to these actors — suggesting that they are “unattractive” — that is not the intention of this clumsy diatribe. The sole intention is to draw attention to Hollywood’s unabashed focus on stereotypical [“perfect”] beauty over talent; but before this rabbit hole gets too deep to climb out of, let’s move onto the point of this seemingly off-handed diatribe…
Eddie Marsan is so perfectly cast as John May in Uberto Pasolini’s Still Life that it seems utterly unimaginable that anyone else could ever play this role. One is the loneliest number that John May will probably ever know. “If there’s no one there, there’s no one to care,” declares John’s boss (Andrew Buchan); but, as part of the Client Services department, John has dedicated his entire life to sifting through the belongings of the forgotten, in the hopes of finding and convincing their estranged next of kin to usher them into the ground. Otherwise, John seems to be the only person willing to witness the funeral and burial services. Unfortunately, considering his own position in life, John’s current state of affairs might actually be predetermining his own fate.
Helmed by the nephew of [the late, great] Luchino Visconti, Still Life is a contemplative examination of loss, loneliness and alienation in modern society. As the endless cans of tuna and toast suggest, John has no one; essentially, he is not all that different from the unclaimable bodies that he ushers into the earth. Lonely and forgotten, John’s fate seems [im]practically predetermined. John spends so much time attempting to connect with the kin of his unclaimed deceased that he makes no attempt to form his own interpersonal relationships. Regardless, the conclusion of Still Life is a tough one to swallow without an endless stream of tears.