Council worker, John May spends his days working tirelessly to contact the next of kin of the recently deceased, coordinating and attending funerals for the dead who have been forgotten or ignored. When his boss tells him that his low productivity levels have caused him to be ‘let go’, John puts his all into his final case, Billy Stoke; a funeral that will be nothing but empty seats unless John can find someone who will care.

Still Life (2013) – Director: Uberto Pasolini

Is Still Life appropriate for kids

By Source, Fair use,

Rating: 12

Running Length: 92 mins

Starring: Eddie Marsan, Joanne Froggatt, Andrew Buchan

Genre: Drama


‘Still Life’ follows the unusual life of John May who lives a solitary existence; his interactions with the living are minimal but his need to give the dead a proper and respectful send-off (even selecting appropriate music for the deceased) has become his main motivation in life.

The film focuses on John at the end of his long career but during this short time we see snippets of what John has dealt with over the years – empty funerals, uncollected ashes, a son who wants nothing to do with his veteran father’s funeral (despite it not costing him a penny) and it is clear to see how this would affect a good man like John. This could easily make him cynical and bitter but instead it opens his heart and without a hint of judgement, he approaches each new case with an open mind, speaking to anyone who may have known the deceased and encouraging them to attend their funeral.

Much like the beautiful Japanese film, ‘Departures‘, ‘Still Life’ is a beautiful, humble and subdued story of an ordinary man and the dignity of death. It won’t ignite your mind in excitement but it is poignant, well acted and very sure of its subject matter – humanity.


John attends several funerals, where he is the only person there. In one of these funerals, the body of the deceased is seen due to it being an open casket. This is not in any way gory, and the body simply looks like a man sleeping peacefully.

There are several mentions of people dying and not being found for some time. For one of these deaths it is explained that the dead person spent ‘forty days rotting’. Another was discovered after their pet cat was ‘found in the street, bleeding’.

A man urinates on a car out of spite, nothing graphic is seen and he is shown from a distance.

A man is unexpectedly involved in a car accident and lies on the ground with a pool of blood by his head.

Whenever John is unable to contact or engage the family or friends of the recently deceased, he takes the photograph attached to their case file and puts it in a photograph album which he looks through on occasion. Having collected them over so many years, he has dozens of photos of people of different ages and from various backgrounds. As they are all unique, it is impossible to judge whether or not any of them ‘deserved’ to have been forgotten and therefore, kids who are old enough to understand this may be upset by the idea of being ignored in death and potentially dying alone.



The subtlety of ‘Still Life’ could easily make it boring but its pacing keeps the story moving along and the superb acting of Eddie Marson engages the audience who wish to see how this man’s life will play out. Due to the slowness of the plot and the more adult theme of the inevitability of death, we feel that this movie would be most appropriate for older children, aged twelve and over.

  • Violence: 0/5
  • Emotional Distress: 3/5
  • Fear Factor: 0/5
  • Sexual Content: 0/5       
  • Bad Language: 3/5 (infrequent mild to moderate cursing and blasphemy. One strong word is used)
  • Dialogue: 3/5 (some explanation of deaths, including bodies being found weeks after death. A character explains how a man held another man’s arm in a deep fat fryer)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of death, humanity, apathy, the different ways people feel about their loved ones, funerals, respecting the dead and human connection.

Words by Laura Record

Still Life [DVD]

New From: £5.72 GBP In Stock

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