Saturday, May 16, 2015

#365Movies - No. 82 - Still Life

I feel I have to write about this one because it really messed me up! And I don't mean in the way Ex Machina or Remember Me messed me up. This one really got to me.

So I'm browsing through Amazon Prime (Thanks, Claire) looking for something funny to watch. I go through the comedies and come across Still Life. I recognize the characters from the movie poster. That's Anna (Joanne Froggatt) from Downton Abbey!! And that's the guy (Eddie Marsan) from The World's End!! I watch the trailer and it seems pretty good as independent movies go. It won an award, "Winner Pasinetti Award, Best Film - Mostra Internazionale D'Arte Cinematografica la Biennale di Venezia 2013". Ooh, sounds prestigious! Marsan plays John May who has a very interesting job. He has the job of tracking down friends and families of those who have dies alone. So he's looking for acquaintances of a man named William Stoke. He stumbles upon a photo album with pictures of a little girl who turns out to be his daughter. Enter Kelly Stoke played by always beautiful Joanne Froggatt. He meets up with her to give her the bad news. Then a montage of quick scenes. You see them talking in a little coffee shop. She's later boarding a train and asking him if he would like to meet up later for "a cup of tea or chocolate." You then see him talking to a couple of bums who knew William Stoke. One of them says, "That's all we want really. A woman to be quiet with." This is voice over to John and Kelly in the coffee shop and her smiling at him. Then you see "**** 'Deeply moving and richly rewarding...a film with incredible heart.' -EMPIRE" And then a few more scenes and that's the end of the trailer.

Ok, it's peaked my interest. So I read the description given by Amazon Prime.
"A government worker, charged with finding the family members of those who have died alone, is assigned to his final case - and finds himself on a liberating journey that allows him to finally start living his own life to the fullest. From Tribeca Films"
 Sounds like it could be fun. Now I'm getting into some spoilers, even though this really isn't the type of film you shout out "SPOILERS!!" before discussing it. But here it goes anyways:


It starts off very sad. John May is at three different types of funerals and there is no one else in attendance. He goes back to his office and it's just a small room with nothing but boxes and boxes of files. He has a computer but never used it. His flat is pretty much the same way. Small, bland, no pictures hanging about. He does have a large photo album with photos of the people he's helped over his 22 year career. (Ok, pretty bleak. Still waiting for "Anna" to show up.) He is then given a case that happens to be in his very own apartment complex, directly across from his apartment. This is where he finds out about William Stoke. Like the others he lived alone, surrounded by his meager belongings. He had a record collection but no record player. Later that day John's boss calls him into his office and tells him he's being let go. He pleads with his boss and gets a few more days to close the William Stoke case. Turns out not many people really cared for William Stoke. He finds his former employer, a former love interest, his daughter he never knew about and his granddaughter. William was on the street for a while and John comes across a couple of guys who knew him. He finds out he was in prison and comes across a letter to Kelly Stoke (Froggatt) among his belongings in the public records hall. He contacts her and gives her the bad news. She doesn't really want to have anything to do with her father and John heads back home. The next day Kelly calls him and they meet for tea. This is the coffee shop scene from the trailer. At the train station they agree to meet Friday after the service for "a cup of tea and chocolate." They hold eye contact as the doors close and the train departs. He keeps watching it as it rounds the corner. He heads back home with a smile on his face. That's the first smile I've seen from him throughout the entire film!! He's finally happy. Then as he's crossing the street...BAM!! THUD!! Hit by a bus!!! I thought he might make it because they show him lying on the pavement, mind you blood is coming out of his ear, but he's conscious and blinking. Nope. Dead. That's it for John May. Now here comes the bitter irony. Nobody is at his funeral. Not a single person. As the hearse is taking him to his plot we see the service for William "Billy" Stoke and EVERYBODY showed up! His lady friend with her daughter and granddaughter, his military buddies, his boss, Kelly, even the two bums showed up. All these people show up all because of John and nobody is there for him. As the hearse travels behind everyone, Kelly starts looking around for John. By now my heart is breaking! The service is over and everyone is heading down the path. Kelly passes in front of the camera as she is looking up the hill. There we see two grave diggers finishing up with John. Oh man! You have got to be freaking kidding me!!! They leave and there rests John May. Now here comes the clincher! This part threw me over the edge! All of a sudden a figure appears and starts walking towards the grave. It's William Stoke! Then more people start to appear. And then I start to recognize some of them from the photo album John kept. These are all the souls John helped and they came back to pay their respects. FADE TO BLACK. THE END.

Now here's why I'm upset with the whole thing. It's not a comedy at all!! There were probably three or four times at the most that made me chuckle. (John pissing on his boss' car after he was fired) And the Amazon description lied!!! "...assigned to his final case" Yes he was assigned to it but he didn't know it was going to be his final case until it DID become his final case BECAUSE HE WAS FIRED! "...and finds himself on a liberating journey that allows him to finally start living his own life to the fullest." Bullshit!!! I call bullshit! "liberating journey" ?! He was fired!! "start living his own life to the fullest" NO! No he does not! He is fired and continues to do his "job"! He doesn't live life to the "fullest". He barely lived! And Froggatt's screen time in the film is practically doubled what it is in the film! The trailer hinted that they may start up some sort of relationship. Why not? She does seem to be into older men. (Downton Abbey reference, Anna and Mr. Bates) But no! Just when you think it's going to have some sort of happy ending...WHAM!! HE DIES!! I normally expect this from independent films but the last few indies I've seen have had a pleasant ending. Well, not this one! And here I was looking for a comedy to cheer me up and now I'm depressed and feeling lonelier than ever before.