Review / ‘Still Life’   (M)   ****

Still-Life-Eddie-MarsanSOME filmgoers might consider Uberto Pasolini’s gentle study of a man whom life’s pleasures have bypassed to be banal, shallow, lacking dramatic bite.  

But, as well as providing actor Eddie Marsan with a career-elevating role, it stands for the little man whom we might not notice as we go about our exciting lives.

Borough Council clerk John deals with people who’ve died without known relatives or friends. Watching his meticulous personal and working styles without visible enjoyments or diversions so pervades our perception of him that we might easily overlook that John’s situation parallels those of his clients.

Still-Life-AThat even tenor stops suddenly when his supervisor tells him that his position has been rationalised away. His last case is Billy, a Falklands war para, no other details. From skimpy initial clues, John travels around England to locate people who knew Billy in order to discover what kind of man he was.

The target audience for “Still Life” will be people of conscience and goodwill rather than seekers for excitement. The film turns out to be a detective story quite unlike the general example of that genre, a gentle journey among joy, laughter, sorrow, admiration, grief, achievement against seemingly impossible obstacles and other satisfying human understandings. No violence, no angry conflicts, no unbearable tensions, merely a steady and absorbing search for truth in a progress toward a double-barrelled denouement that some may find ingenious, even sad. But not without charm. And Eddie Marsan’s performance is virtuoso.

At Palace Electric

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