The Carer: The Movie, Starring Brian Cox as an ageing acting legend
If ‘twere to see it, then it would have to be pretty soon, as this most excellently heartwarming movie is on in so few cinemas, and has had so many erroneously lackluster reviews that it won’t last long unless word of mouth gets underway and can turn the tide for a production that would strike a responsive chord in the many of us who have experienced the role of carer, or cared for.
More broadly, as one of the few positive takes on it – in the online site Weekend Notes – suggests, “the movie goers who will most enjoy this show will be those with a passing knowledge of Shakespeare, stage or growing old. Everyone else will still enjoy it, but this is a movie for actors, directors and theatre aficionados.” And, as I said, for carers and cared-fors.
The thing about this film is that while its plot device is the clichéd formula of elderly and ailing misanthrope forming a warm friendship with peppy young carer, it travels well beyond that with its excellent actors, great dialogue, gorgeous setting, and fabulous take-home message. And as a surprise bonus for those few of us with Hungarian links, not only was this uber-British movie made by a Hungarian production company, but it also makes its bright young carer a migrant Hungarian would-be actor who – just occasionally – has some sub-titled Hungarian dialogue.
What makes this film special, however, in my opinion, is that it doesn’t resile from confronting so many of the issues that carers and cared-fors have to come to terms with in the tough situations of deteriorating conditions. Here, for example, a once successful Shakespearean actor has Parkinson’s Disease, and consequences such as his falls, frustrations and incontinence are not shied away from. And nor is the impact of this on his family and friends, as they struggle to work out how to help him, and how that – in turn – impacts on his struggle to remain independent.
All of this is artfully interleafed with apt extracts from Shakespeare’s plays, played out by the actor and his new young carer, and part of the strong connection that grows between them. And as an accompanying feast for the eyes, the actor’s successful past is demonstrated by a stunning country home that would warm the cockles of any Anglophile’s heart.
Somehow, then, in concert with its challenging subject, “The Carer” manages to be a feel good movie, and I can’t do better in summing it up than to quote the following comment to a damming review of it in The Guardian, to which a Missfritton responded that “I wouldn’t give this shit review even one star. The film, however, was great.”