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Friday, May 15, 2009

Is Anybody There? Review

Is Anybody There? - An E1 Films Release

Release Date: May 15th, 2009

Rated PG-13 for language including sexual references, and some disturbing images.

Running time: 92 minutes

John Crowley (dir.)

Peter Harness (writer)

Joby Talbot (music)

Michael Caine as Clarence

Bill Milner as Edward

Anne-Marie Duff as Mum

David Morrissey as Dad

Thelma Barlow as Ena

Linzey Cocker as Tanya

Adam Drinkall as Stuart

Garrick Hagon as Douglas

Michael Caine and Bill Milner in Is Anybody There? - an E1 Films release.

Our reviews below:


Is Anybody There? Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Is Anybody There? is the story of Edward (Bill Milner), a young boy growing up at the retirement home his parents own. Fascinated with death and the afterlife, Edward doesn’t have many friends, until Clarence (Michael Caine) comes along. Clarence is a retired magician, who has to come to terms with his past before he can move on to the future. Set against the backdrop of the late 1980’s in a small seaside town in England, the two of them form an unlikely friendship that is both moving and believable.

Although the story does not just concern their friendship. Edward’s Mum (Anne-Marie Duff) is desperately trying to keep the home and her family running smoothly, and Edward’s Dad (David Morrissey) is on the verge of a mid-life crisis. We also get to spend time with the other senior residents, who are charming and funny. But, this really is Michael Caine’s movie. It’s also one of his very finest performances to date. I hope he receives some Oscar recognition for his work.

Despite it’s bleak subject matter, this is not a feel-bad film. There are some very funny moments and it celebrates life more than anything else. It’s sad, yes, but it’s also uplifting and full of hope.

Another thing I loved about the film was Joby Talbot’s musical score, which uses a theremin. This adds to the film’s sense of wonderment and the mystery of the unknown.

Coming of old age tales must be popular right now with such films as last Winter’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Gran Torino. Later this month Disney•Pixar will be releasing Up, another film about an old man forming an unlikely friendship.

Is Anybody There? is touching and emotional, it is at times heartbreaking and I had tears in my eyes. It’s just a beautiful film. As of now, this is one my favorite movies this year.


Is Anybody There? Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

Is Anybody There? is a movie about a boy named Edward, (Bill Milner), who while living in the senior’s home that his parents run, has become confused with life and death, and how it all works. He tries to solve this issue by planting tape recorders around the house after a resident dies to see if he can hear their ghosts. Soon, a new resident arrives. He is a magician named Clarence, (Michael Caine), and over time a friendship between him and Edward develops, and they both start to see life in a new light.

Is Anybody There? is a beautiful film that has a wide array of emotions woven into it. It’s a good movie that really captures it’s premise well, and Michael Caine’s standout performance carries it along at a pleasant pace. Bill Milner also does a good job as Edward, while acting alongside Michael Caine. The music by Joby Talbot including instruments such as the theremin, sets the mood just right.

After seeing this movie, I was debating between 3 1/2 and 4 stars. This is a movie that makes you think about what it must be like to have a whole life behind you and no one to remember it with. Is Anybody There? is one that you should see. I am happy to say 4 stars.


Is Anybody There? Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Set in rural England in the 1980’s, Is Anybody There is a charming and very touching film about the friendship between a boy and a retired magician. The boy, Edward, lives with his parents in a house that they rent out to seniors. Edward is bored living in this makeshift retirement/nursing home, so he occupies his time searching for ghosts every time another resident dies. When a retired magician named Clarence arrives, he is grumpy, and does not want to live at the house. Clarence is saddened by what has happened in his past, and wished he could make up for his past mistakes. Over time, Clarence befriends Edward, teaching him magic tricks. Edward realizes that living with older people is not so boring after all. The friendship between the two is very touching and believable.

This movie is funny, touching, sad at times, but very quirky and sweet at the same time. The acting is excellent, and the story is very moving. Michael Cain’s performance was really good, and captured Clarence’s character perfectly. Joby Talbot’s quiet score was perfect for the film. The use of a theremin really captured the quirky aspect of this movie.

Is Anybody There is a lovely and touching film that you can bring mature friends to. This movie will make you laugh, cry, and realize that friends can be found in the most unexpected places. This movie made me happy to be alive.


Is Anybody There? Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

‘Is Anybody There?’ is a heartwarming, quirky, low key British film about aging and friendship.

The story revolves around 11 year old Edward whose family owns and operates a somewhat rundown boarding house/seniors home. Edward is fascinated with the question of what happens to people when they die. He sets out with his tape recorder to see ‘Is Anybody There’ when some of the resident’s die in the house.

When new resident Clarence (Michael Caine) a retired magician arrives at the house Edward isn’t pleased. The last thing Edward wants is another grumpy old person sharing his home. Slowly over time a friendship develops between Clarence and Edward with Clarence teaching Edward magic tricks.

Michael Caine’s Oscar worthy performance as Clarence makes this movie absolutely wonderful to watch. He reminds us that beneath an unlikable or irritable exterior is a human being with a lifetime of memories, including regrets about things left unsaid. Clarence’s friendship with Edward help both of them develop a better understanding of what gives a person value in life and in death.

For anyone who has a loved one in a retirement or nursing home this movie will touch you., There is a lot of humour but also moments that will move you to tears. This is a really good movie that will stay with me for a long time. I’m glad I saw it.


Is Anybody There? Review By Tony

**** (out of 4)

The parents of ten year old Edward (Bill Milner) run their large house as a seniors home. His Mum (Anne-Marie Duff) loves her job a lot more than Edward and his Dad (David Morrissey), who is undergoing a mid-life crisis. Dad does most of the heavy lifting except when residents check out for good and both parents need to pitch in to drag them away. Obsessed with mortality on a regular basis, Edward has been setting up his tape recorder under the beds of residents near death to try to capture any sounds associated with their final moments. This morbid fascination with death has largely alienated Edward from his schoolmates. Widdower Clarence (Michael Caine), a retired stage magician, arrives as a new resident in Edward’s former bedroom. Though at first resentful and uncomfortable around people in even worse shape than he is, Clarence eventually befriends Edward and manages to replace his death interest with a new way to live through magic.

Michael Caine is brilliant as expected in his finest film role to date, supported by an excellent cast that includes some of the finest elderly British talent. Despite various degrees of decripitude and dementia, the dignity of people in their last years is lovingly respected with a good deal of gentle humour along the way. Despite the thick Yorkshire accents, we understood just about all of the dialogue, and look forward to subsequent viewings to pick up the bits we missed the first time around.


Consensus: Is Anybody There? is a touching film that is carried beautifully by what may be considered Michael Caine's finest role to date. This is a film that if you don't see it in theatres, you will definitely want to catch it on DVD. **** (Out of 4)

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