John May (Eddie Marsan) lives a solitary life, quietly going about his business as a government worker tasked with finding the loved ones of the recently deceased.
He takes great care to honor each of the dead: He plans funerals (though sometimes he's the only one in attendance); saves cremains longer than rules dictate just in case a friend or family member turns up; and keeps a book of photographs to memorialize those he has helped (though they'll never know).
John is a pleasant man, but doesn't appear to have any friends—and that may be why his compassion runs so deep for the loners he's helping.
When his new boss tells him that his work is too "slow," and they're downsizing him to provide a more efficient service, he just has one more case to solve before he departs.
His research leads him to meet Kelly Stoke (Joanne Froggatt), a next-of-kin who appreciates his kindness during a time of great shock and sadness. Their journey is a story in itself, twisting and turning with unexpected developments.
Eddie Marsan gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the heroic May, representing the ultimate professional in a career that not many would want. Downton Abbey
Froggatt is a welcome surprise late in the film, and their chemistry is delightful.
From the simplicity of the scenes to the hollow sets, the vibe of the film is masterfully executed by director Uberto Pasolini. The quiet pauses allow the audience time to digest the weight of confronting death while still keeping everyone engrossed in the story.
This one is not to be missed, folks.
STILL LIFE will screen at the 40th Seattle International Film Festival (fittingly) on Memorial Day, May 26. For tickets, go here.
Labels: 2014, 40th Seattle International Film Festival, cremation, Death, drama, Eddie Marsan, funeral, Italy, Joanne Froggatt, SIFF, SIFForty, Still Life, Tassoula, Uberto Pasolini, United Kingdom