It has to be said at the outset that Iím a big Michael Caine fan.I love his style, his wit, and his charm.He comes across in just about every role as a carefree spirit who ambles along, or through either guile or charm or smarts gets his way.
Caine has done some wonderful work in original roles, like Hannah and Her Sisters, and also in remakes, even remakes of his earlier works, which is fun stuff for fans.
Perhaps itís the limited number of role available to older actors, or the performance here, or more likely the script, but the role played by Michael Caine in Anybody is much darker, much older, much more tired and defeated than anything weíve had from him before.
And while itís clearly still Michael Caine up there on screen, itís unclear whether this is a good thing.
Caine is one of two central characters in the film, along with 11 year old Edward, played by Bill Milner.As Clarence, a retired magician, compelled to live in an old age home run out of Edwardís parents' house in a seaside community, Caine shows a range, and may well be nominated for an Oscar, but itís still all sad and messy and disturbing.Sure, thatís real, given what happens to people who suffer from alzheimerís. But the film seeks to show the arcs of two passing lives, one young, the other old. And there's a predictability to it.
But itís tough to see Caine in this role.He has moments, and is engaging when his character is lucid, and on point.But when he breaks, in the moments when Clarence is despondent, and lonely, and confused, Caine isnít truly convincing, and the film suffers.
Thereís lots of amusing backstory here, along with one of the more comic opens I have seen in some time.And given the number of recent British ensemble comedies set in homes or not in office or professional settings, thereís a recognition that those devices work.But those moments are too few, the core subject matter explored by young Edward is too dark and perhaps even cerebral for a tween (are we alone, and what becomes of us after death), and dementia and loss are hardly fodder for serious comedy.
Anybody drags just after mid-point, once you see that Clarence and Edward have bonded, and once you recognize the inevitable is coming.There are a couple of slight twists, and of course wisdom is conveyed from the elder to the child, who becomes a richer person as a result, bringing together family, friends, and even residents at his familyís home.
And who knows what happens when we die. Perhaps there are ways to communicate from beyond. Reincarnation may be real. People might get their wishes. At least on screen.