By Joanna Langfield

What a beautiful film.

Director Oliver Hermanus, along with screenwriter Kazou Ishiguro, has gifted us with a sublime and genuinely touching English language version of a Kurosawa classic. Here, the story, reminding us it’s never too late to find meaning in life, is enhanced by the lead performance, a modulated and compelling piece of work from a great Bill Nighy.

Don’t go looking for special effects and swooping action. Although our central character, a beyond buttoned up British bureaucrat who keeps his terminal diagnosis to himself, becomes somewhat of an inadvertent superhero. Realizing he has only a short time left, Mr. Williams also realizes he has no one he feels comfortable enough to share it with. And so, he tentatively reaches out to a few of the young people he’s met at his office, hoping quietly for some kind of connection. After a few bumps and starts, friendships are forged and a legacy is left. It’s told in such an eloquently crafted and deftly compassionate way, I am almost welling up, just writing about it.

There’s a comparison to be made with, say, Tom Hanks’ upcoming A Man Called Otto and, for sure, other films that remind us it’s never too late to open your heart. Some of these films are better or more effective than others. This one stands pretty much alone amongst its contemporary kin, in its almost poetic power. Plaudits to Sandy Powell’s period costumes, Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch’s score, Jamie Ransay’s cinematography and supporting players Aimee-lou Wood and Alex Sharp, but Nighy makes this one his own, with one of the greatest performances of his long and varied career. With this achievement, perhaps he, too, is seizing the day. And we are fortunate to see it happen.