Is Anybody There?

Posted by schnolis on May 13th, 2009 filed in Reviews

IS ANYBODY THERE?Edward (Bill Milner) has some problems. He’s an aloof kid of 11 years growing up in England. His parents, after struggling with more traditional work, have started a home-business providing care for the elderly and infirm. Edward resents all his own sacrifices, but losing his bedroom to a paying customet most of all. To pass the time he searches for the answer to what happens when people die. By hiding a beat-up tape recorder underneath beds he covertly records the last gasps of the dying. He doesn’t fully grasp why nothing ever ends up on his cassette.

Then Clarence (Micheal Caine) shows up. He’s a curmudgeon with ample attitude for all who cross his path. Initially he and Edward don’t get along, but their mutual hatred for the home draws them together. Clarence worked as a magician his whole life. Age has taken its toll on his act, though. Senility is settling in.

Being surrounded by death is difficult for Edward, as it is for many young people who personally experience it. He’s old enough to ponder the weighty issues of pain, loss, and the afterlife, but doesn’t really have anyone with whom to talk about it. His parents don’t have the time, his schoolmates aren’t interested, and the eldrly occupying his home don’t need any reminders they’re next. Eventually Clarence grasps this and selflessly puts aside his own fears in an attempt to get Edward through the naturally troubling time.

What I liked: The intersecting lives of Edward and Clarence, one on the way in and one on the way out. It’s surprising when you think about it how rarely those two groups have any significant interaction. The reality based parenting displayed in the film. Parents have to cope with issues that often prohibit them from doing things for and with their children.

What I disliked: Clarence was a tad two-dimensional. He transformed from the cantankerous loner to grandfatherly mentor without much of a transition. Some of the dialogue was muffled and indistinct. The colors in most of the scenes were drab and washed out. While I admit it worked well with the material, the film dwelled there too long. The relationship seemed a little one-way; Edward tried to help Clarence only to find him too far gone to appreciate it.

Rating: 7 of 10

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