It comes to us all. The children have flown the roost. You go to the cinema to see a superhero blockbuster. Batman, Superman, or some other character in a cape does battle with a baddie who threatens to destroy the world . Skyscrapers crumble around them and taxis fly through the air. It’s loud and visually stunning. Yet without the teenagers in tow it dawns on you that you’re not really enjoying this stuff anymore. And anything in 3D just gives you a headache. Reached that stage yet? I have.
My favourite film of 2022 was probably Living, staring Bill Nighy as an ageing civil servant, Mr. Williams. The actor has received an Oscar nomination for the role. His character’s life is stuck on hold in a bureaucratic machine. County Hall where he works seems to operate with the sole purpose of stopping anything happening that would improve the lot of 1950’s Londoners. No capes are donned. No skyscrapers crumble, but the movie packs a powerful punch. Mr. Williams receives the devastating news that he is terminally ill. His first response is to try and live it up a bit with a trip to the seaside. But escapism fails to satisfy his desire to live out his days well, rather than just existing for the drudgery of the office.
Although what does it for Mr Williams is returning to work. He unites his team in a project that will actually do something for the ordinary people of London, a city that has not yet been rebuilt following the Blitz. The message of the film is that we find purpose in life by doing things that make a difference for others. The final scenes are almost unbearably poignant.
Jesus said, ‘I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly’. That’s why he died for his people on the cross and rose from the dead. But Jesus’ vision of abundant life isn’t an endless round of parties, glitz and glamour. He called upon his followers to love their neighbour as themselves, to care for the sick and feed the poor. Life to the full is for those who believe in the Lord Jesus, die to self and give their lives in the service of others. That’s living alright.
* For the February 2023 edition of various local magazines