EIFF 2016: The Carer (2016)
While it’s all been done before, The Carer overcomes unoriginality and predictability thanks to a fantastic central performance from Brian Cox, playing an elderly and infirm actor being looked after by the titular carer (played by Coco König). Cox plays Sir Michael, a bit of a legend thanks to his many star turns on stage, on television, and in movies. But he now has to endure humiliating days when he loses control of his bowels. Young Dorottya is the girl who ends up outlasting many other carers, thanks to her mix of good humour and passion for acting, much to the bemusement of others in the household (played by Anna Chancellor and Karl Johnson) and Sir Michael’s headstrong daughter, Sophia (Emilia Fox).
Directed by János Edelényi, who also helped to write the movie with Gilbert Adair and Tom Kinninmont, this is the kind of cosy fare that us Brits so well. Which probably makes it a bit of a surprise for people to find out that it’s directed by a Hungarian. Not that wee Brits have a monopoly on these slices of Britishness, of course, but it’s the fact that Edelényi replicates everything so perfectly that leads to the surprise. You’ve got the scenic countryside, the stubbornness and desperate need to avoid embarrassment in most of the main characters, and polite conversation peppered with choice, and well-enunciated, cursing.
As good as Cox is in his role, and he really is excellent, it’s a shame that König gives a rather uninspired performance opposite him. I don’t want to be unnecessarily rude about the young newcomer, and she’s certainly lifted during the moments in which she and Cox engage in some bickering, but any scenes that require some work from her just seem to fall flat. Which makes it harder to believe that anyone would view her character as someone so special. Chancellor, Johnson, and Fox, on the other hand, all do their usual sterling work, despite the fact that they’re working with some very thin characterisations.
You’ll most likely come away from The Carer feeling good about having seen it. Despite an ending that overstays its welcome by about five minutes, and a “heartwarming” moment that simply doesn’t work as well as it’s supposed to, this is going to send you off with a small smiled on your face after the end credits have rolled. But I don’t think anyone will rush to rewatch it, aside from huge Brian Cox fans (athough there are a fair few of those around so maybe most WILL watch and rewatch this, contrary to my opinion).
DIRECTOR: JANOS EDELENYI
WRITER: GILBERT ADAIR, TOM KINNINMONT, JANOS EDELENYI
STARS: BRIAN COX, COCO KONIG, ANNA CHANCELLOR, EMILIA FOX, KARL JOHNSON
RUNTIME: 89 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: UK, HUNGARY