Is Anybody There? – Review (Film)

Edward (Bill Milner) is a ten year old boy who lives with his mum (Ann Marie Duff) and dad (David Morrisey) in the old peoples care home they run.

The film is set in the late 80’s with plenty of nods to that era with regard to the TV and entertainment they have on offer.

Edward has become obsessed by death – what happens when you die? Where do all these old people go from here?

He sets up tape recorders in the old peoples rooms so he can monitor the noises they make and try to find clues to the afterlife.

His mother and father are fighting to keep things afloat as the business is struggling and as the film progresses we see Edward’s father fall, or rather stumble, into a midlife crisis.

Edwards solitary existence is broken when a new old man arrives at the home following the death of his wife. Clarence (played superbly by Michael Caine) is a former magician and feels he doesn’t belong in with the old folk.

He befriends Edward and the two embark on a journey of discovery, a journey tinged with sadness as Clarence becomes more and more effected by Dementia.

This was a life-affirming film with a positive message (live for today) but also a warning on the same subject – Clarence’s need for his wife’s forgiveness following her death eats him up and he realises he should’ve been a better husband.

It is great to see a UK film with such heart and Caine’s portrayal of Clarence’s descent into Dementia truly deserves a big audience.

It’s not only Michael Caine that shines. Bill Milner performs really well as young Edward and both Anne Marie Duff and David Morrisey are immense as Mum & Dad. Their performances shine because you really could believe that this is their real life – surely the highest praise an actor can get.

There are plenty of older English actors who you will recognize but perhaps not be able to name and that adds to the charm of the old people’s home. One you will spot is the legend that is Leslie Phillips – his role is small but thoroughly enjoyable.

As depressing as the premise of this film sounds it is a lot funnier than it should be and doesn’t drag you down too far, despite some bleak moments.

Is There Anybody There? certainly isn’t a film for everyone and people who have relatives that have suffered from Dementia are advised it may be a painful watch. But ultimately it’s a rewarding viewing and a film that shows whatever you might think, it’s never too late to have a positive effect on someone’s life.

Rating 8/10

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