What a lovely film! A humorless city-hall bureaucrat in postwar London, pounded down by decades of oppressive routine, learns he is dying of cancer and makes an astounding effort to inject meaning into his life. It’s a simple film, but one that will likely stay with you.

Bill Nighy is as usual magnificent in his restraint. He moves through a huge character arc with only the smallest gestures. The actor can convey more with a slightly arched eyebrow than most “movie stars” can with an entire face. And this is the role he was born to do. Bravo!

Oliver Hermanus’s film is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 Ikiru with a script elegantly penned by the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go).

It packs considerable emotional power, avoids mawkishness and manipulation, and it doesn’t cheat. Its restrained optimism is tempered here and there with a dash of spot-on cynicism.

May be too slow for some, but don’t be in hurry. It gets to where it needs to go when it’s ready to go there. (102 min)