Still Life (2013) - full transcript

Still Life is a poignant, quixotic tale of life, love and the afterlife. Meticulous and organized to the point of obsession, John May (Eddie Marsan) is a council worker charged with finding the next of kin of those who have died alone. When his department is downsized, John must up his efforts on his final case, taking him on a liberating journey that allows him to start living life at last. - stop by if you're interested in the nutritional composition of food
Thank you Father
See you soon Mr.May

Lovely music Mr.May
Great choice

Who shall it be today?
Mr Sandberg please

Here's Mr Sandberg
Coming up to two months now

Just the one?

Just Mr Sandberg, thank you

We'll give the other a little more time

You never know

Subtitles: Emrys Jones

Morning Mr May
Morning Mr White

They're piling up in there Mr May

I'm just expecting some news of Mr Radulovitz
and Mrs Casement. I'm very optimistic

Radulovitz has been on the shelf two good months
What about the others?

Come the summer
they'll be sharing bunks

I still have leads
Not every door is shut

There may still be someone

She was found two days ago

Someone saw the cat in the street,

"To my little Suzie,
happy birthday Mum"

I was told there was no family

No, for 10 years I've never seen anyone

Postmark is last year

"Monday, went to the shops

Bought some fish
Tuesday shops. It's all the same

Here y'are! Dear Mum, thank you
so much for my wonderful present

Does she have a daughter?

"Please write to me soon.
Love you with all my heart ...

Nah, Susie"
Susie's the cat


It's from the Cat
Signed with a little paw

Some people, eh ?

Please call these people
Anything they won't take can be thrown away

London Borough of Kennington Client Services,
John May speaking.

Mr Radulovitz ?
Yes, and you are ...

Mr Radley.
And your connection with ...

His son?

But your sur ...

You've changed it?

Right, right!

Thank you very much for calling
Great, just, just wonderful

Unfortunately, as you know

your father has passed away. Yes

six weeks ago

Well you were contac ... Actually in this
office we're charged with tracing the relatives

of those who passed away in the Borough and failing ...

Yes, your father ...

No, no no, there's no obligation for the
next of kin to pay for the funeral

No, you don't

Indeed ...

There is no obligation to attend, but ...

If I may say so,
I understand, Mr Radu...

I mean ... Mr Radley.

Your father, Mr Radulovitz, might not
have been the best of fathers, but if I ...

What do I?

My family?
No, I don't have ...

But surely, now that he's passed away
his children should ...

But you've found a father after all these years ...

I would ...

Wouldn't you want your children
his grandchildren, to know?

It's not too late

No, I know he's dead, but ...

You're right

I wouldn't know

And would you be able to think of anyone
who might have had contact?

Someone who might at least want to be
present at the funeral

And you, you would ... no

Very well Mr Radulovitz.

I'm sorry, Mr Radley.

I understand. Thank you


Case Closed

says it was my dog?

That dog is always out here. Always

I only have to open my door and
he rushes into my house

Look at that on the wall, look how high it is
I've only got a little dog

If you kept him on a lead ...

Yes, yes I would like to confirm that a
package addressed to Miss Dawn Harvey...

What was in it?

Why do you need to know?


Ashes, the ashes of Mr George Harvey.

What kind of ashes?

Excuse me, am I speaking to Australia Post,
Yeperenye shopping centre,

13 Cactus Street,
Alice Springs ?

What else, let me see ...

He has a blue paw

and there is a grey mark ...

Ah now, this could help

He has a tattoo on his right ear ...

Well as I said, we found the dog
next to the body ...

in the apartment of Mr Didion

and we thought that someone involved with dog
racing might know the dog and therefore the owner

"We are here

to celebrate..."

We are here to celebrate
the life of Jane Ford.

A woman who enjoyed life for all
it could bring

She was born in the summer of 1945, as peace
finally came to the world, in Scarborough

The only daughter of Jack and Nora Ford

And what a joy it must have
been to them to hold her

A lovely maybe unexpected fruit

of a rare reunion in those turbulent times

She grew to enjoy what life most
readily offered

A walk on a sunny day at the beach,

a simple yet graceful necklace

a new stick of red lipstick

She was passionate about dance,
flamenco in particular

and always looked forward to stepping
out on the dance floor in her red dress

Later in life, a love of animals
made her care for her sweet cat Susie

with whom she shared many happy years

Always celebrating Christmas together
in great style

Just you again, Mr May

'Fraid so

Six in this one already,
this is the last one

Got yourself a cracking spot there Mr May

By the time it's your turn those branches
will be shading anyone who comes to visit ya

It's good to plan this kind of thing

Uncle Fred ended up in Surbiton

I'm sure he wouldn't have liked that one bit

London Borough of Kennington, Client Services

Good afternoon, Mr Huxley.

Very well, thank you

Found ... today

No point of contact

Yes, I will go this afternoon

And the address?

The neighbours complained about the smell

The police said it must have been weeks

I don't really know. Bit of a loner.

You know the type

So you live opposite, eh?

Did you know him?

No, I didn't know him

I only get involved if there's a problem

Boiler ...

Something like that

You had better wear these

Can't see a record player
Probably sold it for a couple of drinks

What about that eh!

Time stops for no one

Here he is

Billy Stoke.

I can't say I recognize him
They all look the same don't they?

Call the Health Department

they need to clean and clear this place
as soon as possible

Except for the Carriage clock
That goes to the Pawnbrokers in the High Street

Violent. Refuse assistance

Tank you. Thank you very much

Goodbye now

No family again Mr May?

Mr May!

Mr Pratchett

Could I see you in my office please?

As I said, your Department is being
amalgamated with that of the Dulwich office

Here represented by Miss Pilger

and from today the Coroner is referring
all cases to the new office


I suppose I could buy a bicycle
No you don't understand

You won't need to travel, that's the point

Given the current pressure on finances the Council
is undertaking a new round of efficiency savings

We're letting you go

You're letting me go?
In the two months that I've been here

I've been able observe you at work
and there's no doubt you are very thorough

But if I may say so you're also very slow.
That's expensive

given the number funerals you choose to
organize as opposed to cremation

There were no indications of relig ...
John, you've been with the Council now for how long?

Twenty two years
Twenty two years

I think you should see this as an
opportunity for a new beginning, don't you?

A new life

I'm sure the Council's references will
enable you to find new and challenging work

A job where people are alive for a change?

What about this morning's case?

This morning?
Ah yes, that'll be your last one

Please close it in three days

Should be the right size
Sorry about this, you know ...

Health rules

I understand. I also have to wear this
stuff at work sometimes

You're in food processing too then?

Baking? No not really baking. I'm actually a ...

Well, I only have to see this
when I see people


Yes, I mean people ...

who don't bake anymore


Billy Stoke

Worst player in the team
Nobody would dare kick him out

Bloody temper

Hear that?

Managed to fight both Management and
Union reps about the afternoon break

He won us 5 extra minutes then
dropped off, just packed it in

But before he does that, what does he do?

Pisses in a vat of pork meat

Some of the batch got through
Pies never tasted so good

Here, have one

Thank you, I don't smoke

We found this ... in his home

Do you know who she might be?

No idea

Looks a bit like him

Daughter maybe?

That's what I think

Would be nice to give it to her
if she was still alive

He must have loved her

Funny though
Never mentioned a family

We ere best mates really ...

for a time

Like school kids you know,
just, older

He was like my older brother

Then he met the "Fish & Chips"
lady in Whitby and ...

he left to be with her

Would you know her name?
Her address maybe?

No sorry, only saw her a couple of times

Lovely girl though

Billy always had a way with the ladies
Something about him ...

Always on the edge

I don't know ...

Do you understand women?

There will be a funeral

in a few days time in London

Would you consider coming?
To the funeral?


I mean it would be good to have a
drink with him but ...

A funeral

After so long

You miss that train next time
and I won't be waiting

Yeah you will, you want me too much
Don't count on it!


You'll never find anyone who loves you as much as I do
Yeah? And how much do you love me then?

Well I love you more than you love me
That's for sure

A black tea please
You should try the hot chocolate

We just got this new machine
It's gorgeous


A hot chocolate please

The train now departing from platform 3,
is the 12:30 service for London St. Pancras

Hello, Mr Pratchett.
Yes, it's John May.

John May, Client Services

Yes I know, I'm sorry

I haven't been feeling myself today

No, still not quite right

I don't think I will be in tomorrow

Yes of course

Goodbye Mr ...

Just put them on top of the others

When he were good he were wonderful

Very kind and loving ...

When he were bad ...

you got out the room

Just half a sack

in the peeler and then ...

pull the switch above your head.
The one on the left

When they're done

In the chipper

And don't put you hands in if you like your fingers

I can only tell about his life here wi' me

he never spoke about his life before

He could give you so much in a day that you
didn't want to be anywhere else but with him

Do you know what I mean?

It was me who asked him to move in.
He worked a while on the boats

That went, thanks to those fools in Brussels
so he started helping out in here

He were good at it

Put extra beer in the batter.
Customers were happy

It were nice to have him around all day

Strange job you've got

All those lives ...

I couldn't do it

I like my work.
Here y'are

You got the paperwork?
Oh hell, I forgot. Give me a minute

Mind the child

Bit early for another inspection
Had the last one mid-summer

No, no I'm here to find people who were
friends maybe

for a man who was here 20 years
ago, William Stoke.

You won't find any friends of his round here

What's he done now?
Killed somebody?

No, actually he died a few weeks ago

Hmm ... good riddance

Fried a man alive he did

This guy were faffing wi' Mary
Billy gets vexed, lands him one

So the guy picks up knife
Billy grabs his arm

shoves it in the fryer up to here,
and holds it there, knife and all

Mad I tell you

Says here it should be paid in June.

Good morning
Don't worry about that love
We'll sort that out

Did you miss mummy?

I were just telling him about when Billy
fried that guy. Mad eh?

Eat that one

Don't forget we promised mam we'd
take her to the Bingo

Some more?

Don't listen to him

Billy were cleared, completely

But he wasn't the same after that

He started drinking a lot
Became impossible even wi' me

And after a while he just upped and left

We found this in his room

do you recognize her?

Did he ever speak of a family?

No, he never spoke of having a family

he did leave something behind
but he never knew about it

She's Den's at 4:30, so see you then

Bye love!


Miss Jones, there'll be a funeral, Billy's funeral,
in a few days in London. You must come

Bring his daughter, and his granddaughter
It's one ..

I'm sorry, it's not possible

But ... you're his family

We're not his family. He didn't want one

And I can't. It's too long ago
It's too much to explain

The Council could help with transport
I loved him

Never loved anyone else since
but I can't

I can't. Please don't insist

Do you know where he might have
moved on to when he left?

No idea

Prison most likely

Morning Mr White.
Mr May.

What news from the land of the living?

Friar in Robin Hood's band, 4 letters


You're wasted here Mr May

Mastermind, big leather chair,
that's where you belong

I'd give it a go if I were you
Mr White.

Our last case, William Stoke.
Row 2,

tray 8,
40 days rotting, I believe


Well he won't have to wait any longer
If you can get him ready please

Oh, they've just taken another 3
for cremation this afternoon

There's a lot more checking out than checking
in these days. I'll be out of a job soon

Here, Mr May...

Flightless bird, 4 letters


Dodo, I never heard of it

You're the best thing Mr May!

Another fruitful day, John ?
Almost there?

Mr Pratchett.

Miss Pilger tells me of great progress John
The Council's very pleased

I'm sure you'll be pleased in turn with
the references I am preparing

Thank you

You see it wasn't that difficult after all

We have to think about this?

Your job

And let's face it, the dead are dead
The funerals are for the living

So if there's no one there,
there's no one to care, right?

I mean, for the living ...

could be better not to know. You know,
no funeral, no sadness, no tears

What do you think?

I can't say that I've ever thought of
it that way Mr Pratchett

Well anyway, the dead are dead

They're not there, they don't care

Mr Pratchett!

Yes, John?
Mr Pratchett!

I need a few more days
More days?

I'm afraid that won't be possible John,
the Council as already ...
My last case, William Stoke.

John there's really no need for you
Miss Pilger can sort it

It'll only take a few days

Right, alright, but it'll have to be
in your own time

Your termination notice has already been
signed, and the Council can't re-issue it, OK

Of course, I understand Mr Pratchett.

No, no, we have no knowledge of an actual conviction

But you see Mr Stoke was on a ...

a particular trajectory

I think mostly short spells, vagrancy ...

assaults, that sort of thing
but er ...

No trouble inside
And you have no record of any visitors?

No, we sent the old logs off the
to the Metropolitan archive

And they can't find them there
Well you could try the Home Office

We're talking about 20 years ago
17, actually

Mr May if we have to remember what's happened
to every man whose walked through here

we wouldn't get much sleep at night

And I like my sleep

I'll tell you one thing. Your Billy once
hung over the edge of the 3rd floor landing

from a belt with his teeth

Three and a half minutes

He was raising money for some charity

All the lads put a few quid in

His teeth?
Yes, his teeth

How about that then?

Goodbye Mr May

"Stoke became violent"

"The visitors name was Ms Kelly Stoke"


Kelly Stoke?


You're not Kelly Stoke?

The daughter of William Stoke ?

Yes. Sorry, who are you?

I'm John May. Kennington Borough Council

I have some sad news I'm afraid

Your father has died


Well it's hard to say exactly


Because ...

I don't want to know

Thank you

Miss Stoke...

There is this

I found it in his flat

He never even wrote

I was so angry

Still am again

Then one day it was my birthday, 18 ...

he called

He didn't mention my birthday

though he must've know

He must have, don't you think?

Yes of course

Of course he knew. He remembered

Well he was in prison, drunk
or so it sounded

He'd hit rock bottom, and ...

he wanted to square things before
he got out so he could start again

Mum wasn't sure, but we still went though

Almost didn't recognize him

but he knew who I was, and I had changed,
you know, in eight years

But he knew, as soon as I walked in
Yes, yes

Only, as soon as he turned round ...

it all came out

I don't know where from

It just started

about Mum, him leaving us

how selfish he was

Then he started shouting

Billy Stoke never backed down
in the face of a row, did he?

It was horrible

The Guard had to come over

And then, he punched the Guard in the face,
turned round, walked out the door ...

and I never saw him again

There's Dad with Jumbo

Both Paras, in the Falklands

They were best mates

He got in touch with me about ... 10 years ago

Wanted to find to find Dad. I couldn't
help him, but he sent me that anyway

No, take it

I don't need it, I mean ...

I don't know why I kept it really

Miss ...
Erm, fine

Nothing really, it's just erm ...

It's just the shock

I must ask ...

your mother, is she ...

She's dead

Quite peacefully, and someone with her

Too early though

Three years ago

So an orphan as of today


That's not nice ...

whenever it happens

I should go

I am very grateful for your time

Thank you

Thank you for coming to tell me

Of course

And you have my number

if you decide to involve yourself any further

The funeral ...

And I've arranged ...
Please Mr May, don't say any more

You've already said such a lot

Excuse me, your door!

Your door!

Your door!

John May

I thought I heard you coming down the corridor
Young folks steps, not many of them round here

Come in, I'm Jumbo

Very pleased to meet you Jumbo
Made you some dinner, I hope it's out

Some tea there just brewed. Pour yourself a
cup and sit down. Eat

Thank you

Very much


yes, thank you


So ...

Billy's daughter told you about me

I remember her voice ...

Must be a lovely girl, gentle



Didn't get that from her father

Knocked my bloody head in,
mi' first day in the Army

Wouldn't be here now though,
if it wasn't for him

Didn't leave me on that bloody mountain

The Falklands?


Fuckin' place

You've been in the Army?

Me? no, no I haven't

That's worst of our lives, the Paras

They picked the meanest bastards didn't they ...

When I found him again, he was
on the streets, a dosser

Mind you, he only slept in the poshest places,
Barclay Square, Green Park.

No King's Cross for him

The drink ... helps you forget

Helps you to sleep without dreaming

Then it gets inside you
and won't come out

It's awful when you think about it

Killin' a man

And you? You stayed on?

No, as soon as I got out of hospital,
came down to London

Tried settling down
Even got married

What a day that was!
Fell asleep in the church

We met at a dance

She was hiding behind the pillars,
pretending not to look

Two left feet, lovely!

They were the days

It's alright Officer
Just here havin' a think, that's all

He's not the law, he's from St. Jude's
St. Jude yeah?

Still tryin' to turn us
off drink for a soup

What happen't they used to send
pretty birds to convince us

We're not worth enough
I'm from Kennington Borough

I'm looking for people who might
have known a man called William Stoke,
Billy Stoke

I'm told he use to come here often
Billy Stoke, you mean Big Billy

What's with him?
Actually he passed away a few weeks ago


Well we ain't seen him for months

Years even
What is it you want to know?

I'd like to know what he was like

What acquaintances he ...

Yeah? Well information like
that's worth the price of a drink

D'you think?

Bottle of whiskey please

The large one

That's what I call a drink!
Good man!

Thank you

Sit down, sit down
You'll give us a toe neck

Big Billy...

he was the worst beggar
Hold on a minute

Have a red one, they're good

Thank you, I haven't eaten

He weren't one you see
The punters felt it, they never stopped

It was Lesley who got him the drink
He would have been sober without her

We were all mad for her, I was

But out the crew she picked Billy
The only one who didn't pester her

I didn't
You did!

Do you remember the time he nicked the
chocolate for her, it was all melted

It all ...

caked in it, all covered in this ...

woo, sticky chocolate

Oh yeah, he got 3 months for that

Just for chocolate

Do you know where I can find Lesley?
Bone yard

Good funeral though

Lovely lady
Good drink after

They never seemed to talk

They just sat there on a bench together

Well that's what we all want, isn't it

A woman to be quiet with


This one here, G-93485

93485, right

Good views

Aren't they?


And you would like to ...
I would like to make it available for someone else

Family member?

No family

Just a friend

London Borough of Kennington Client
Services John May speaking


Miss Stoke, of course

Not Plymouth, two stops before Plymouth

Off platform 2

Yes, I'm sure I'll find it

Thank you very much Miss Stoke.

I mean, Kelly.

Thank you, Kelly.

See you tomorrow

I thought this piece here ...

it really has something

I'm sure it's never been used in a funeral
before but you'll see ... you'll hear,

when you hear it next Friday

Ah yes, the memorial

They call it red granite
but it's not red, it's darker

more maroon, it's like the colour
of his beret in the Army

I thought your father would have liked that
And the place, I really hope you like it, it's

Well on a good day you can see for miles
and even when the weather is not that great

it's so open, you really feel you've got,
you really feel

I mean he is, he is outside

He's not inside. Not under

I was thinking next Friday,
after the service

maybe we could go somewhere,
a cup of tea or a chocolate

Just, you know just to chat if
we have time of course, if you ...


yes, I would like that very much

Just a cup of ...

something, and I do have time

I have lots of time

See you there then ... John

And thank you

Thank you for everything you've done

No need

It was ...

just my job