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The Carer

When the question is to be or not to be, there is only one answer.

Brian Cox plays Sir Michael Gifford, an elderly Shakespearean actor who’s suffering from late-stage Parkinson’s disease while cooped up in his country estate. Having already seen off several candidates for an assistant gig due to his excessively crotchety ways, he softens considerably when he meets young Hungarian carer Dorottya (Coco König), who’s also an aspiring actress. Together, the pair concoct a secret plan to attend a ceremony where Sir Michael is due to receive a lifetime achievement award, but they repeatedly clash with his exasperated daughter (Emilia Fox) and his long-serving secretary-slash-former-lover (Anna Chancellor), who become increasingly suspicious of Dorottya’s motives.

Poster for the drama The CarerCox is on terrific form as the crotchety old thespian who seemingly has a Shakespeare quote for every occasion, up to and including an undignified bowel-movement-related incident. Similarly, König delivers an extremely sweet performance, and her gradually evolving relationship with Cox is genuinely touching.

The film is bolstered further by a strong supporting cast, who allow their characters to feel lived-in and believable, particularly Chancellor, who brings a palpable sense of a shared history to her scenes with Cox (on a similar note, director János Edelényi also makes judicious use of a very early onscreen Cox performance).

The script is peppered with funny lines and manages to work in a number of thoughtful literary, theatrical and cinematic references without feeling overly pretentious, as well as exploring a number of resonant themes, such as the treatment of the elderly and the maddening afflictions of old age.

Though relatively small in scale and ambition, this is an engaging and sweetly observed comedy-drama that’s definitely worth seeing, especially for Cox’s winning performance.

– Matthew Turner, Wow 24/7

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