Is Anybody There ? 2008 ***

A welcome starring role for Michael Caine, Is Anybody There? sounds a bit gloomy on paper; young boy Edward (Bill Milner) lives in the retirement home his parents run, and his life takes an abrupt turn when he falls under the spell of Clarence (Caine), a retired magician. Anne Marie Duff and David Morrisey are his parents, and there’s a full complement of British talent as the inhabitants of the home, including Rosemary Harris, Sylvia Syms and Leslie Phillips, with Peter Vaughan contributing a notable scene as the victim of a guillotine trick which goes horribly wrong. Caine gives a prickly performance as Clarence, and John Crowley’s film never overdoes the sentiment; Is Anybody There? is a rather quaintly old-fashioned coming-of-age story handled in a very British way.


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