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  • Colin Fraser

THE GREAT ESCAPER

THREE STARS Bernard slips out of his care home so he can attend D-Day celebrations.

DRAMA UK English #THEGREATESCAPER

Starring Michael Caine, Glenda Jackson



Michael Caine goes to France in this old-codger charm-fest from Oliver Parker (ST TRINIAN’S). It’s a by-the-numbers story and while there’s nothing cinematic about the production, it excels in pairing two of British cinema’s finest - Caine and Glenda Jackson - in utterly unapologetic old age. You don’t need much more when you’ve got these two.


Based on a true story, Bernard is a self-proclaimed ‘coffin dodger’ who slips out of his care home on England’s south coast to attend the 70th anniversary of D-Day in France. It’s quite a trip for the 90 year old, especially since he didn’t tell anyone what he was up to. A fellow vet (John Standing) takes him under his wing and together they lay some ghosts to rest. Back at home, his ailing wife (Jackson) looks on as the press get wind of his story and turn him into a minor celebrity: The Great Escaper. 


Although there’s nothing particularly surprising in the narrative, the compelling performances of Caine and Jackson chucks out mawkish cliché and lets the simple reality of old age shine. They’re a warm, loving couple who are well aware of their age, their health and determination to make the most of what time they have left. It's surprisingly emotional, and given extra heft with what turned out to be Jackson’s swan song.  


THE GREAT ESCAPER effortlessly relates the importance of honouring the past and being both present and decent in the present. Most of all it’s a lesson in never wasting a moment of what the future brings. 


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