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Is Anybody There? [Blu-ray]

3.9 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Ten-year-old Edward lives in his family-run retirement home. While his mother struggles to keep the family business afloat and his father copes with the onset of a mid-life crisis, Edward leads an increasingly lonely existence until he meets Clarence (Michael Caine), a retired magician and grieving widower, who refuses to give in gracefully to old age. The two strike up an unlikely friendship which helps them both remember that magic is possible when life is lived to its fullest.


Seventy-six-year-old Michael Caine and 13-year-old Bill Milner (Son of Rambow) make a fine comedy-drama team in Is Anybody There?, a touching if predictable story about taking a chance on human contact in a sea of loneliness, regret and death. Caine plays Clarence, a retired magician forced to take up residence in a home for seniors. Despite his anger and indignation, Clarence establishes a relationship with Edward (Milner), the only child of a financially-strapped couple who reluctantly turned their home into a care facility. Surrounded by old people who die off with some frequency, Edward develops a fascination with the afterlife and ghosts. For a while, Clarence humors him, particularly in a memorable séance scene where the old man applies his illusionist skills to entertain Edward. But, for the most part, Clarence spends his time trying to draw Edward out of his morbid fixation and accept--as Clarence has with some cynicism--that when life comes to an end, that's it. Director John Crowley (Boy A) does not avoid the tougher elements of this relationship story, particularly the way Edward has to watch Clarence slowly disintegrate, a broken man seeking forgiveness for all the things he considers unforgivable. But Crowley also has fun with the crazy life pool of Edward's house--the gaggle of elders who sing together and watch television and dance. The supporting cast includes some very familiar faces: Rosemary Harris (Spider-Man), Sylvia Sims, Leslie Phillips. Predictable as Is Anybody There? can be at times, the final act takes a surprising turn and is truly moving. --Tom Keogh

Special Features

Deleted scenes

Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Caine, Rosemary Harris, David Morrissey
  • Directors: John Crowley
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Blu-ray, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,572 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Is Anybody There? [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
Probably one of the lowest activity films this year on Blu that ended up looking this pristine. Michael Caine's performance was outstanding from beginning to end, but unfortunately he is not in every scene.

The story follows a young boy as he deals with his life of living at a retirement home in the 1980s UK (that his parents manage for income). I had to have subtitles on as the accents and slang were unintelligible throughout. Caine plays a retired magician and self appointed resident to this home who inevitably befriends this young loner. Over the course of the film these two unlikely characters impart upon each other their little nuances and knowledge of life. Extremely slow moving at times and unlikely in others, what makes this movie tangible is the believability of Caine's borderline senility meets second chance in a dead end home role.

The Blu clarity is outstanding. I even paused it in the most of unlikely places and the line definition was ideal for the scenes. Even in the near dark basement scene there was no pixelation or blur. The DTS was perfect, and the subliminal/background noises of the old folks home played through no matter what part of the house the scene was taking place. The only supplement was made up of a few forgettable deleted scenes.

Not a mainstream appeal film by any means, but the performances were believable by all involved. The Blu sells itself but in an unlikely film of sorts. Four for the Blu and the story.
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Format: DVD
Is Anybody There? is one of those films that shows that it's truly better to have a small budget with a good story and people who know their craft than to have a big budget with a mediocre story and people who don't. It's a charming little film that didn't make a big splash at the box office but is now being discovered on DVD by word of mouth.

The film is set in what was once generally referred to as an "old folks home" in rural Britain in the 1980's. The center of the story is a ten-year-old boy named Edward who lives there because his Mum (Anne-Marie Duff) and Dad (David Morrisey) run the place, with the help of a hired-girl named Tanya (Linzey Cocker). It's a marginal existence and the strains on the family are readily visible. Mum is harried and exhausted from carryig the lion's share of the load of running the place and looking after the home's various elderly residents, each with their various quirks, problems and eccentricities. Dad, barely half-hearted when it comes to shouldering his share of the load, is going through a mid-life crisis, trying to make himself look - and feel - younger as he gives unwanted attentions to Tanya. And then there's Edward himself (Bill Milner, who stole the show in the equally underseen Son Of Rambow), a lonely boy with no real friends who's become obsessed with death and the afterlife because barely a month goes by without one or two of the home's residents passing on.

Into this quietly desperate situation comes Clarence (marvelously played by Michael Caine), a retired stage magician who's been sent to the home - much against his wishes - after the death of his wife.
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Format: DVD
This is another of those little gems that should appeal to anyone who enjoys thoughtful movies. The plot is simple enough: an old former magician lands up in an old-people's home and we follow the action largely by accompanying the young son of the people who run the home. The plot is simple enough but what matters here is that the direction is assured and even the smallest parts are played by actors and actresses who give depth without over-playing. The cast, indeed, is a veritable who's-who of British film and television and it's a pleasure to observe the craft on display here.

The central themes are those germane to most people's lives: regret, the impossibility of doing anything more than muddling through, loss, acceptance, and - in a sotto voce manner - forgiveness. Michael Caine turns in a good solid performance that is under-stated to the right degree. In fact, everything is under-stated, which makes the emotional impact much greater. And the script avoids the standard Hollywood play-it-for-sobs-then-tears-of-joy schtick, up to the last 60 seconds of the movie. Although the premise of the movie sounds depressing - let's watch old people decay and die and the caretakers' marriage fall apart because of the stresses and strains - this is actually a very enjoyable movie to watch. The pleasure is akin to seeing a finely crafted time piece in operation: everything is where it needs to be and the parts move in synchronicity. So basically this is a low budget movie that delivers high value emotional content and the pleasure of seeing something done very well indeed. Absolutely a must-see for anyone who enjoys superior acting and confident direction.
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"Is Anybody There" is a 2008 production of British Broadcasting Corporation Films that has achieved a theatrical, art house release in the United States. It runs 95 minutes, was written by Peter Harness, directed by John Crowley, and stars that wonderful actor Michael Caine.

It is set in 1980's seaside England: it looks/sounds like the North of England to me, and concerns the interactions of Caine, playing the Amazing Clarence (Parkinson), retired magician, unwillingly taking up residence in an old people's home; and Edward (Bill Milner), an unusual ten year old boy who's fascinated by death, and well-placed to investigate that fascination, as he's growing up in the old people's home that's run by his parents.

Anne-Marie Duff plays Edward's Mum; David Morrissy, his Dad. The home is populated by a veritable stock company of well-known older English actors: considering the prevalence of plastic surgery, they might well have been made-up to look older, as Caine might have been. (The man seems to have no personal vanity.) They include Rosemary Harris as Elsie, Leslie Phillips as Reg, Elizabeth Spriggs as Prudence (it was her last picture); Sylvia Syms as Lilian, and that North of England stalwart, Peter Vaughan, as Bob. Speaking of which, you can cut the North of England accents in this picture with a knife: subtitles would sure have been helpful. Despite which, the acting is uniformly very good.

Conservative Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister in the 1980's, and this film is apparently set on her watch; it might have had some political thoughts. Thatcher's governance was noted for great, although costly in human terms, improvements in the British economy, and I'm a little surprised to see this setting of the family-run nursing home at that time.
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