All week we have been looking at some of the best BBC Films movies as the feature filmmaking arm of the BBC celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary.
We have put films such as Pride, Mrs Brown, and Iris under the spotlight... and now we are going to take a closer look at Is Anybody There? Which is one of my favourite Michael Caine films of recent years.
Is Anybody There? Saw John Crowley in the director's chair, in what was the third feature film of his career and the first since Boy A. Peter Harness was also on board as he penned the screenplay.
Set in a sleepy British seaside town in the 1980s, Is Anybody There? Tells the story of a morbid, bookish 10-year-old boy whose parents have turned their house into a retirement home. While his mother (Duff) struggles to keep the business afloat and his father (Morrissey) copes with the onset of a mid-life crisis, Edward (Milner) becomes increasingly obsessed with the afterlives of the home's elderly residents, following them around with a tape-recorder to capture the sound of the soul as it escapes the mortal coil.
But Edward's macabre turn of mind is distracted by the arrival of 'The Amazing' Clarence (Michael Caine), an anarchic retired magician and grieving widower who is determined to age disgracefully. As an unlikely friendship blossoms between them, the old man comes to terms with his past, the child masters his fear of the future, and both learn to seize the day.
This may be a movie that does explore themes of death, old age, and losing the people that we love, but that does not make Is Anybody There? A depressing movie in any way. This is a movie that explores these themes with heart-warming humour and a smile and it really was one of the best films of 2009 for me.
Michael Caine gives a terribly moving central performance as former magician Clarence, who is in the early stage of dementia and is struggling to deal with the events of his past. Through this character, we see how quickly time passes and how life is for living and enjoying every moment.
This is the message that Clarence tries to pass on to youngster Edward - played by Bill Milner. Edward lives in the old-people's home that his parents run and lives a very lonely existence. Through his fascination with death, Edward and Clarence connect as the latter tries to teach the former about life.
Clarence and Edward make an unlikely couple and Caine and Milner are just so wonderfully touching together. They are two lonely people who find each other and it is this relationship that really drives this movie.
For me, Is Anybody There? Is a touching and profound film that deals with a tricky subject that we would all rather not think of talk about. And while this is a movie that does deal with death, there are plenty of heart-warming and funny moments as Clarence tries to instil life in the young Edward.
Anything with Michael Caine in is well worth a watch, but he really does give a wonderful central performance in this movie. Is Anybody There? Is a quirky watch that presses a lot of emotional buttons as well as having a huge heart.
Tagged in Michael Caine