'Is Anybody There?' - Classic Caine
Such is the case with Michael Caine in "Is Anybody There?" Taking a break from his "Dark Knight/Batman" duties in the English butler role, the 76-yearold Caine gives a full-blown, heartfelt performance as retired traveling magician, Clarence Parkinson, who has come to the end of his life at the Lark Hill Nursing Home. The establishment is more like a boarding house for the elderly, owned and run by young, struggling couple (Annie-Marie Duff and David Morrissey).
Begrudgingly sharing the home with the seniors is the couple's 10- year-old son, Edward (Bill Milner), who is so obsessed with spiritualism that he tape-records dying patrons in hopes of catching audible evidence of their ghostly transition into the netherworld.
Though at first adversarial, the relationship between Edward and the grumpy magician deepens into a poignant bond, much like the characters in "Harold and Maude." Extremely saddened by the divorce and death of his wife and magic partner, Clarence sees no need for the future and tries to take his life. However, he is saved from suicide by the boy, who begins learning the tricks of Clarence's trade.
The little magic man is now able to impress his schoolmates and build his self-esteem. But, the aging master is slipping into senility, as evidenced when a stunt involving a mini-guillotine goes tragically askew.
Under John Crowley's sensitive direction, "Is Anybody There?" is masterpiece of little moments, provided by many wonderful veteran actors in the elder parts (Rosemary Harris, Leslie Phillips, Sylvia Syms), not the least of whom is the classic Michael Caine.
Don't miss it. It's pure magic.