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The Carer (Brian Cox) - Review

The Carer

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

IT MAY boast an overly familiar premise but thanks to a masterful performance from Brian Cox The Carer remains a film that’s well worthy of your attention.

The Scottish star plays retired Shakespearean legend Sir Michael Gifford, a man now struggling with a form of Parkinson’s that has turned him into a mean-spirited curmudgeon – someone prone to firing his assistants and alienating those closest to him.

Things change, however, when his daughter employs a new carer named Dorottya (Coco Konig), a young woman from Hungary, whose perseverance and joint passion for acting helps to establish an unlikely bond between them that yields benefits for both.

A labour of love for Cox, who is a strong advocate for films about the human condition, The Carer serves as both a story that acknowledges the ravages of time and old age as well as an inspiring ode to friendship and overcoming life’s obstacles.

As such, it follows a well-trodden genre path that includes the likes of Al Pacino’s Oscar-winning turn in Scent of a Woman and Francois Cluzet’s French gem Untouchable, right down to Eli Wallach’s likeable performance in the otherwise forgettable The Holiday.

But it’s in terms of execution that the film sometimes falls down, with Hungarian filmmaker Janos Edelenyi’s direction adopting a safe approach to the material that often struggles to escape a TV movie feel – some of the subversion evident in the aforementioned Untouchable would have served the film better.

The pacing also feels leisurely, even stage-like, while several of the characters feel overly stereotyped, whether it’s Emilia Fox’s under-used put-upon daughter or Anna Chancellor’s overly doting former love interest.

Newcomer Konig does offer a certain everyman appeal as Dorottya but could have used a few more showy scenes of her own to really make a name for herself.

Instead, it’s left to Cox to do the heavy-lifting that saves the film from obscurity. And he steps up to the task with aplomb. His Sir Michael is a richly absorbing character – someone not afraid to offend or be disliked but who earns our respect, and sympathy, in spite of his all too human flaws. It’s a performance that embodies anger, disappointment and frustration with a slowly realised passion and charisma, culminating in a six minute speech at an awards gala that genuinely inspires (and which was apparently co-written by the actor himself).

Indeed, there are several occasions where the screenplay – co-written by János Edelényi, Gilbert Adair and Tom Kinninmont – serves up some biting observations for Sir Michael to deliver with suitable gusto: with one such gem the deftly delivered: “Alzheimer’s should be the province of the young as they have nothing to remember.”

Hence, The Carer emerges as a generally endearing, even heart-warming film that succeeds in spite of its flaws.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 85mins
UK Release Date: August 5, 2016