The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
The Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby” famously imagines its eponymous heroine as a solitary spinster who attends a wedding wearing “a face that she keeps in a jar by the door,” then dies and is given a funeral to which “nobody came.” “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” the chorus mournfully wonders.” “All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”
The British drama “Still Life” by writer-director Uberto Pasolini is pretty much an exact cinematic equivalent of Paul McCartney’s downcast lament. It begins with three funerals, of different faiths, at which there is only one mourner, the same in each case. He is John May (Eddie Marsan), a short, square-ish fortysomething who not only attends such funerals but also arranges them and even writes their eulogies.
This is his job, but it has also become something of a mission, even an obsession. May works for a council in south London where he’s assigned to arrange for the burials of people who die without any relatives or intimates to assist with their passage out of this life. Much like Eleanor Rigby. There seems to be a steady stream of such folk, since May has been employed for over two decades. And the government evidently has the largesse to allow him to pay for proper funerals, each with a clergyman, music, a good casket and a decent burial.
Since they have no one else, May regards the deceased as “his” people, and he goes to extra lengths to serve them well. Researching their lives as exhaustively as limited time and resources allow, he constructs the most favorable life narrative for each that he can, and this becomes the person’s eulogy. He also tracks down any lost relatives or friends and tries to persuade them to attend the last rites – usually without success.