Overview: A quiet, unassuming man works to find the next-of-kin for people who have died alone. Distributed by Redwave Films; Unrated; 92 minutes.
I’m Just Going to Say It: I hated this movie. I hated it the way I hate trying to solve a math problem with numbers and letters in it. I hated it the way I hate stepping in a puddle and getting water in my tennis shoes. I hated it the way I hate going to the dentist. Okay, maybe I didn’t hate it that much, but I really freaking hated it.
Still Life is a combination of all of the things that make bad movies, well, bad.. It’s condescending, boring, irrationally maudlin, and downright pandering. There isn’t a touch of subtlety in the entire thing. It’s a movie that takes itself annoyingly seriously and relies on cheap twists to pry an emotional response from its audience.
Poor Dear Sweet Eddie Marsan: I feel a little bad for trashing this film because it does have its strengths. Or rather, one strength. Eddie Marsan is, as always, great in his role. He’s an actor capable of expressing a ton of emotion with a simple quirk of his upper lip, and with his interesting, mousey features, Marsan plays his character exceptionally well, and I’d like to see more films with him as the leading man. Unfortunately, one strong performance can’t save Still Life from its painful script.
I didn’t hate Uberto Pasolini’s directing style either. Pasolini consistently goes for clean shots that are aesthetically pleasing, if hollow, and in the right movie, that can work beautifully. But in this movie, it’s a choice that just comes across as lazy. Pasolini is a little too orderly and organized. He never breaks from the mold, and because of that calculated decision, the movie doesn’t either.
So Why Did I Hate It?: The film’s greatest flaw is, by far, its ending. There’s a slight chance that you’ll hear people refer to Still Life’s closing scenes as “shocking,” “touching,” “sweet,” or god forbid, even “poignant.” With confidence, I can tell you that those people are wrong. The ending is bad. It is very, very bad. There is nothing good about it. NOTHING. Before the final scenes, I didn’t hate Still Life. I didn’t like it much, mind you, but I merely found it uninspiring and dull. That’s a crime in and of its own, but it’s not nearly as loathsome as the ending, which forces meaning and metaphor onto the audience in the most insulting and obvious way.
If you’re reading this review and thinking, “Wow. Great! I’ve been in the mood to hate-watch something!” slap yourself in the face, ignore that thought, and move on with your day. For your own good, watch something else. (I recommend Grizzly Man or World’s Greatest Dad.) You could even watch Still Life and then turn it off before the final ten minutes. That would be all right. But if you make the mistake of watching the ending, know that you’ll probably walk away angry, doubting if there is any good left in this world. It is not worth the pain.