Is Anybody There?
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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
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One example of this beaten to death (no pun intended) premise is the fact that this boy throughout the film is witness to many deaths as a result of his mother and father running a sort of hospice for elderly people with nowhere else to go. It's easy for the viewer to extrapolate further on their own after seeing one such instance, making it laborious and unnecessary to continue showing us further examples.
And does it REALLY have to take an 18 year old girl to make an impact on a dying marriage because the husband is infatuated by his past she reminds him of?
Since Caine's character of a retired magician wasn't fully explored, there is only a glimpse of the kind of magic he could have used to inspire joy of living. It's a completely dropped ball and is kind of disheartening.
The only reason I am giving this movie 3 stars at all is simply because of three extremely powerful and realistically emotional scenes that are some of the best acting of Michael Caine's wonderful and varied career. There is also a stellar moment for the boy which I will not spoil here. Suffice to say, it, and the Caine miraculous moments do a great deal to propel this otherwise disappointing, flat movie into something much more enjoyable, and heartbreaking.
The actress Ann Marie Duff looked like an English woman that I was once going to marry. I find it interesting that they both shared the same name of Kathryn. They also both played the guitar and sang," A Nightengale Sang In Berkley Square." I was shocked when I saw the scene of Duff playing and singing that song. I felt like I could have swooned.
I understand the end of the movie quite well when it concerns the need for forgivness.
I saw the movie four days in a row. The film made me cry. You would maybe cry to if you saw something of your life on the silver screen.
There are some people who do not think much of this movie because they think that it is dry and boring. I do not think that I will ever see another film like this ever again. The film was profound for me personally. I would like to add that Kathryn Ann is far more beautiful than Ann Marie Duff.
A grand film!!!
that great British actor, Michael Caine. I had thoroughly
enjoyed that film, so when I discovered that Michael Caine had
made another superb movie with a human interest story-line,
I decided to purchase "Is Anybody There?" which turned out to be
equally as heart-wrenching and intense. I would highly recommend
family viewing of this all-around high quality, wholesome film.