Still Life is a drab, muted movie, but that’s to be expected from a film about people dying alone and unloved. John May (Eddie Marsan) is employed by the council to track down the loved ones of the recently deceased. We open with a montage of John attending a series of funerals alone; the sole observer of unheralded lives, people who have passed away with no friends or family to speak of.
Writer/director Uberto Pasolini paints explicit parallels between John and the subjects of his investigations. We watch him isolated in this funeral services; watch a day in his life, as grey and uneventful as the movie itself. It’s an equivalence drawn too frequently, though sometimes effectively, as in the film’s best scene where a morose Marsan, rendered near-monochromatic by the desaturated palette – lies down in the grass amongst the gravestones, contemplating his mortality.
The direction the film takes in its last act comes as no surprise then, and merely reinforces the blandness of the monotonous melancholia. The dreary obviousness is reinforced by its terrible final shot, reiterating the ‘moral’ with unfortunate clumsiness. Lacking the poetry it strives for, Still Life is ultimately about as appealing as a family funeral.