Sunday, August 9, 2020

The glorious Brian Cox brings János Edelényi's THE CARER to pulsating and delightful life

A love letter from Hungarian film to British actors, acting and Shakespeare himself (whoever the hell he actually was), THE CARER is also the second film I've seen in as many weeks to star that great actor Brian Cox in yet another role of a dying old man.

Again, as in The Etruscan Smile, Cox is a treasure, and the movie itself, even as it proves filled with many of the usual dying-senior-citizen tropes, is so specifically designed around Cox and his (along with director and co-writer János Edelényi's) love of acting, in particular the Shakespearean variety, that this movie immediately becomes a gift and a treat for anyone who shares these affections.

Hungarian filmmaker Edelényi (shown at right), along with his co-writers Gilbert Adair and Tom Kinninmont, tells the story of a once hugely popular (if not hugely loved) stage and screen actor Sir Michael Gifford (played by Cox, above and below), now suffering from Parkinson's disease, mostly reclusive, and given to firing one caregiver after another, to the frustration of his daughter (Emilia Fox), his driver-and-ex-dresser (Andor Lukáts), and his nurse and ex-lover (Anna Chancellor). Into this unhappy little hothouse comes a possible new caregiver (played sweetly/feistily by an alliterative newcomer named Coco König), a pretty young woman who brings along her own agenda.

How all these characters bounce around and off each other -- in ways that often go differently than you'll expect -- helps make the movie a lot more enjoyable that it might initially seem. And the acting ensemble, led by Cox, is both ultra-talented and eminently watchable.

Additionally, the script, direction and performances do not play fast and loose with senior years or end-of-life situations, so there is a certain verisimilitude to the proceedings that makes whatever feel-good you take away from the film unsaddled with guilt.

Shakespeare lovers will revel in both how much of the Bard they'll enjoy during the course of the film, and Mr. Cox does such a fine job with it all that you'll wonder why he has not been tapped to play all these roles already.

The Carer is one of those well-made, old-fashioned films that should resonate both with older audiences (for obvious reasons) and younger ones willing to take an interest in what maybe lies ahead. As for the lovely, intelligent and deeply felt speech that Sir Michael makes at the film's conclusion, if you are not already aboard this very special slice of entertainment, this should fully wrap you in its wonders.

From Corinth Films and running a just-right 89 minutes, The Carer hit home video last month -- for purchase and rental. Amazon Prime members can view it now free of charge it as part of their membership.

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