Films & Schedules

  • Is There Anybody There?

  • John Crowley

United Kingdom
92 minutes

Production Company:
Big Beach LLC/BBC Films/Heyday Films
Executive Producer:
David M. Thompson, Christine Langan
Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub, David Heyman
Peter Harness
Production Designer:
Kave Quinn
Rob Hardy
Trevor Waite
Colin Nicholson
Joby Talbot
Principal Cast: Michael Caine, Bill Milner, Anne-Marie Duff, David Morrissey

International Sales Agent:
Odyssey Entertainment

TIFF Tags: Aging, Illness/Death 

Sunday September 0703:00PM RYERSON Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Monday September 0804:45PM ISABEL BADER THEATRE Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Thursday September 1108:00PM WINTER GARDEN THEATRE Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Fresh from the success of last year's Boy A, John Crowley returns to the world of a young boy, fashioning a film of a very different kind. Infusing his new work with the childish naïveté of a precocious and curious lad named Edward – brilliantly played by Son of Rambow's Bill Milner – Crowley enters this terrain with the same eerie and eloquent ease that was evident in his earlier work. But while Boy A was a study of a young ex-criminal, the protagonist of Is There Anybody There? is younger and more guileless. Although his interests are indeed uncommon, they are those of a boy as opposed to a haunted teenager.

Edward lives, somewhat reluctantly, in a rambling hospice for the aged, of which his parents are the managers and owners. He is fascinated by death, but more interestingly, by what happens after death. Surrounded by the elderly, he is intrigued by ghosts and the paranormal. His distracted and overworked parents tolerate his interests, but Edward obsessively pursues the meaning of death, toting his tape recorder around in an attempt to find clues that will help him understand mortality.

With the arrival of the bitter, burned-out Clarence (the indomitable Michael Caine), who unwillingly finds himself an inmate of the hospice, Edward's interests take on an entirely different dimension. An ex-magician who has stopped practising his trade, Clarence no longer finds anything positive anywhere or in anyone. Irascible, irritable and angry, Clarence is at first barely able to tolerate the young whippersnapper – but it is not long before they are drawn together, two mutual outsiders trying to make sense of the world.

Caine gives a commanding and daring performance as the jaded Clarence, and Milner is a perfect foil as the youngster. This unlikely couple find themselves embroiled in a series of comic misadventures that touch on the deeper questions and mysteries of life. Full of wit, wisdom and wistfulness, this film confronts death and the hereafter with humour and honesty.

Piers Handling

John Crowley was born in Cork, Ireland, and began his career as a theatre director. In addition to celebrated productions of Tales from Hollywood and Juno and the Paycock for the Donmar Warehouse, he also directed the National Theatre's production of Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman. He made his feature film debut directing Intermission (03), which won the Douglas Hickox Award at the British Independent Film Awards for best debut director. His other features are Boy A (07) and Is There Anybody There?(08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award