The Carer



Set in the world of actors, this film tellingly matches the veteran Brian Cox with Coco König.


Carer, The

Brian Cox 


This film is dedicated to the memory of Gilbert Adair who died in 2011 but who is the first named writer here. Compared to other screenplays by this poet, critic and novelist, The Carer is a work both simpler and more direct, but it still feels very individual and this is an engaging film. At its centre are two contrasted characters. One is the distinguished Shakespearean actor Sir Michael (Brian Cox) now retired and suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The other is the young woman, a Hungarian named Dorottya (Coco König), who, living in this country while studying acting, seeks a post to supplement her income. She applies  to become carer to the old actor who by this time recognises that he is close to death. Always difficult to deal with and at odds with his daughter, Sophia (Emilia Fox), Sir Michael seems in time to be won over by Dorottya, but she has a fight on her hands when he dreams of ignoring his state of health in order to accept in person a lifetime achievement award now being offered to him by the Critics’ Guild.


Although no opera singers are involved here, we are not light years away from the 2012 film set in a retirement home for musicians, Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet, but as one would expect from Adair the writing is shrewder and sharper. That applies to the comic asperity of Sir Michael’s remarks as well as to the more touching moments many of which concern Milly (Anna Chancellor) and Joseph (Karl Johnson) whose loyalty in each case has been stedfast. All of the cast do well, but the film plays as a duet between Cox (always strong but never overplaying) and König whose charm seems natural and unforced. Given the qualities of the actors, János Edelényi supplies an aptly discreet touch as director.


If my rating is arguably a little too kind, it is because of two moments in the film’s second half when it stumbles slightly. First, when Sir Michael opts to ‘rehearse’ for the speech he plans to make at the award ceremony by appearing in an extract from “King Lear” at an old people’s home, it seems too unlikely not to seem an indulgence in the writing. Secondly, the climax itself, making reference to a famous comic moment in Jack Benny’s film To Be or Not to Be already glimpsed earlier in extract form, doesn’t quite come off as intended. But, even if the desired affirmation only half works, the film’s later scenes do make one wonder to what extent Adair was aware of his own impending death when developing the screenplay. This affectionate film may be imperfect at its close, but at the same time it feels intensely personal and its message is clear. 




Cast: Brian Cox, Coco König, Emilia Fox, Anna Chancellor, Karl Johnson, Selena Cadell, Andrew Harvill, Roger Moore.

Dir János Edelényi, Pro József Berger, Steve Bowden and Charlotte Wontner, Screenplay Gilbert Adair, János Edelényi and Tom Kinninmont, Ph Tibor Máthé, Pro Des Janice Flint, Ed Adan Recht, Music Atti Pacsay, Costumes Sarah Tapscott.

Sensershot Productions/Mythberg Films/Hopscotch Films/The Movies Begin etc.-Cinefile World.
89 mins. Hungary/UK. 2016. Rel: 5 Aug 2016. Cert. 15