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Is Anybody There? movie poster

Is Anybody There?

Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Directed by:
John Crowley
Starring: Bill Milner, Michael Caine, Anne-Marie Duff, David Morrissey, Elizabeth Spriggs

Released by: Big Beach Films

In Short: An unexpected role by Michael Caine in this sad, gray movie.
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Is Anybody Watching?
Simple Human Relations

It's obvious that any moviegoer would have high expectations of Michael Caine. The longtime actor has appeared in over 100 films, including roles such as Alfie Elkins in 1966’s Alfie, Dr. Wilbur Larch in The Cider House Rules, and Alfred in Batman Begins, which he reprises in The Dark Knight. With such a great acting resume, we were a bit perturbed as to why Caine even agreed to the script of Is Anybody There? With its morose ending (Spoiler Alert: he does pass away), we can only hope Caine himself isn't ready to depart.

The movie takes place in southern England in 1987, where the the owners of house-turned-retirement home, Lark Hall, are celebrating its one-year anniversary. Their ten-year-old son, Edward, doesn't seem to care, as he is thoroughly engaged with ideas of the paranormal and afterlife. Edward records the last living moments of dying residents on his tape recorder, hoping to capture the presence of ghosts.

Michael Caine and Bill Milner in Is Anybody There? Michael Caine in Is Anybody There?

Enter Clarence Parkinson, a disgruntled ex-magician and widower. His wife and magic assistant Annie have passed on, as has his passion for magic and for life itself. He unwantingly moves into Lark Hall, not wanting to share his life or past with anyone, especially Edward. But despite their rough initial contact, Clarence and Edward soon bond to create a close duo. Their relationship becomes quite comparable to that of a grandparent and his grandson, as Edward, who grew up without grandparents, connects with Clarence, something he hadn't done with any of the other residents. With Edward taking up Clarence's fascination for magic, and Clarence teaching Edward the fun of life, each learns how to live through each other.

Despite Caine's disappointing decision to take this role, the rest of the acting is somewhat even. Bill Milner's role as Edward is strong, despite the sad and monotonous beat of this movie, which moves at a snail's pace. If anything, the movie does a good job at pointing out the idea that life really is for the living.

Reviewed by Alain Gayot and Katrina Romero

(Updated: 04/08/09 KR)

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