Is Anybody There? a surprisingly tender coming of age story

Is Anybody There? a surprisingly tender coming of age story

Is Anybody There? (Cert 12, 90 mins, Drama/Comedy,)

Bookish teenager Edward (Bill Milner) lives in the Lark Hall retirement home run by his parents (Anne-Marie Duff, David Morrissey).

He is left to his own devices, spending long periods with aging charmer Reg (Leslie Phillips), prim kleptomaniac Ena (Thelma Barlow), jittery war veteran Bob (Robert Vaughn) and despairing Lilian (Sylvia Syms).

Edward is fascinated with the afterlife and he secretly records the residents on his cassette player, hoping to capture the moment a soul leaves the body.

The boy’s solitude is interrupted with the arrival of grieving widower Clarence (Michael Caine), a retired magician who doesn’t suffer children gladly.

At first, the boy and the newcomer clash but a dramatic incident brings them together, forging an unlikely friendship.

Is Anybody There? is a surprisingly tender coming of age story set in the fashion black spot of 1987.

Caine delivers a tour de force performance as a one-time showman slipping inexorably into the grasp of Alzheimer’s.

He doesn’t strike a single false emotional note, and is matched sob for sob by the wonderfully expressive Milner.

Rating: ****

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