Although Stephen Farber of Hollywood Life stated that Michael Caine gave one of his best performances on Is Anybody There?, it may not be the kind of movie that yuppies like myself would go out of their way and watch, as what someone had said “what a drag…” when he saw the trailer of the movie. But who could blame him? If you are sitting at home and sees a trailer of a movie about an old man who is trapped in his past and a boy who can’t get his life started, how else would you see the movie? But if you go and watch the movie, you will realize that the movie isn’t much of a drag after all.
For the movie depicts what it would be like for a clever child like Edward (Bill Milner), who became fascinated with what comes after death, to live in an old age home. Although he lives with his mum (Anne Marie-Duff) and dad (David Morissey) in Lark’s Hall, a family owned old-age home, Edward was not in a celebrating mood when the home celebrated its first year anniversary on Christmas of the year 1987 for his parents were as busy as usual taking care of Lark Hall’s residents – including a twitchy WWI veteran Bob (Peter Vaughn), timid Elsie (Rosemary Harris), loopy Ena (Thelma Barlow), bitchy Lilian (Sylvia Sims) and the self-professed lady’s man Reg (Leslie Philips) and not to mention losing the possibility of having his old room back with the arrival of Clarence (Michael Caine), a retired magician and grieving widower who was sent by the social services to the old-age home.
With Edward’s interest on the paranormal, he got hooked on the idea that Clarence is a magician and tried his best to befriend the resistant Clarence who had lost his interest in magic and life itself with the loss of his wife and wants to be left alone. But as time goes by, the two saw each other differently. Edward started to that Clarence is a fascinating person and more than just a mere subject for his afterlife project while Clarence saw the boy as a soul who is more adrift than himself. And so Clarence started to share his skills to steer Edward from the dead and bring him back to the land of the living and start living his life as a kid and become accepted in school while Edward helped him bring back his passion for magic.
However, more than anything else that this retired magician and this young boy had ever accomplished is their friendship that transformed their lives. I guess this is the reason why some yuppies won’t see this for they are young and enjoying the company of their friends. They are on that stage where they are enjoying what they have discovered as a kid and haven’t gone through as much as an old aged person to be that disappointed with life.
Directed by John Crowley
Produced by David Heyman
Written by Peter Harness
Starring: Michael Caine
Music by Joby Talbot
Cinematography: Rob Hardy
Editing by Trevor Waite,
Studio: Heyday Films, BBC Films, Big Beach
Distributed by Optimum Releasing
Released on 7 September 2008 (TIFF), 17 April 2009 (US), 1 May 2009 (UK)
Duration: 95 minutes
Country: United Kingdom