Prequels, sequels, reboots, and overly embellished movies that are based on actual events are the cash crops of American cinema now days. They have been the moneymakers for American studios for many years, too, and that is truly a sad thing. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to make things worse for studios and audiences, as it has dramatically reduced the amount of content from which audiences have to choose. Thankfully independent studio Corinth Films presented American audiences with an impressive new offering Tuesday in the form of the dramedy import The Carer. This 90-minute presentation is a work that will appeal to theater lovers as well as those who have an appreciation for dramedies and just good acting. That item – the acting – will be discussed later, as it plays its own part in the movie’s success. The story at the movie’s heart serves as its foundation. It will be discussed shortly. There is only one real negative to address here, the bonus content, or rather the lack thereof. This will be addressed a little later, too. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of The Carer. All things considered, they make The Carer a movie about which many audiences will and should care.
More than four years have passed since Corinth Films’ British import The Carer made its theatrical debut in its home nation of the United Kingdom. It begs the question why it took such a long time for this successful cinematic offering to make its way to the United States. The reason is unknown by this critic. That aside, it is still very much a movie that many American audiences will appreciate. That is due in no small part to the movie’s story. The story in question finds its main characters – Golden Globe Award-winning actor Brian Cox (X2: X–Men United, Adaptation, Super Troopers) and Coco Konig (Assassin’s Creed, To The Boats, Die Rauber) – as the pairing of Sir Michael Gifford and his live-in caretaker Dorottya respectively. Gifford is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, and Dorottya comes in to care for him as he is unable to care for himself. As the friendship between the pair grows, so does the divide between Gifford and his daughter Sophia (Emilia Fox – The Pianist, Dorian Gray, Cashback). Eventually, the father-daughter relationship is healed. How that happens will be left for audiences to find out for themselves. What is even better about the relationship between Dorottya and Gifford is that the writing team of Gilbert Adair, Janos Edelenyi, and Tom Kinninmont did not let that relationship become anything more than that friendship of the aged experienced person and what was essentially his apprentice of sorts. It is no stretch to say that any American screen/script writer would have had no qualms with taking such connection and trying to turn it into an unnecessary romance story. The noted trio of writers is to be highly commended for taking that easy way out. It made the relationship between Gifford and Dorottya deeper and richer. Given, the plot element of the old lion refusing to go quietly into that good night as he works to pass on his knowledge and “legacy” to the next generation is nothing new to the movie industry on either side of the Atlantic. That aside, the approach to that familiar plot element taken here keeps it unique in its own fashion with the result that the story becomes well worth experiencing.
The relationship between Gifford and Dorottya is just one of the matters that makes the story work as well as it does. Gifford’s relationship with Sophia and Milly, his longtime companion (Anna Chancellor – What A Girl Wants, The Hithchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Four Weddings and a Funeral) adds to the interest. It is actually thanks to his friendship with Dorottya that Giifford’s relationship with Milly is strengthened. Not to give away too much, but that story has a happy ending, too. The emotional strain that they go through as they watch Gifford, a man who they love and respect in their own way, succumb to the ravages of Parkinson’s disease will draw in viewers just as much as the noted relationship between himself and Dorottya. That includes anyone who has or has had a family member who suffered from the terrible neurological disease. The way that this storyline interweaves with the central plot involving Gifford and Dorottya’s friendship makes this overall central story line such that it ensures viewers’ engagement and entertainment.
One final note in regards to the story is that the story’s end is happy, but the writers do not make it painfully obvious as to how the happy ending will happen. Even as that ending (which will not be revealed for those who have not watch the movie) is revealed, the writers manage to largely avoid all of the tropes that so many American writers use with dramedies and dramas. It keeps the story (and characters) endearing for audiences, ensuring that much more, viewers’ engagement and enjoyment. Between this and the story’s other elements, the story overall becomes clearly a solid foundation for The Carer’s presentation.
The story at the heart of The Carer does a lot to make this British import well worth the watch. Again, the story overall is not entirely unique, but does still hold its own identity against its counterparts on both sides of the Atlantic. For all that it does to make the viewing experience here positive, the minimal bonus content proves slightly detrimental to that experience.
The only bonus content featured with the new domestic presentation of The Carer is a brief one-minute-plus look back at the movie’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016. A few of the people who watched that premiere were interviewed following the screening. One of the viewers talks about the movie’s finale. Another makes mention of the story’s depth in terms of its story. That is the extent that audiences get in terms of anyone talking about the movie. It would have been nice to have heard from the cast to receive their thoughts on items, such as why they chose to take part in the movie, what they thought of the final product, and their favorite part of making the movie. Another item that would have been nice to have taken in was any discussion on the shooting locations, considering the wonderful backdrops for each scene. Not having all of this extra does detract from the movie’s viewing experience, but it does not do so to the point that said experience fails. It is just a negative that cannot be ignored. Making up quite well for that one negative is the work of the movie’s cast.
Cox, whose resume is extensive in its own right, is that of a seasoned professional. The chemistry between the himself and Konig is so obvious from one scene to the next. The subtle way in which Cox brings Gifford around as Gifford’s relationship with Dorottya grows is so powerful in its own right. It would have been so easy for him to just ham it up and go over the top, but he did not go that route. That is especially considering that Cox is playing an aged thespian/actor. Rather watching him on screen, it would be just as easy to see Cox performing this same role on a stage. His performance is right up there with the best works of fellow famed actor Sir Patrick Stewart. Honestly, one could see Stewart in the role just as much as Cox, all things considered. Regardless, casting Cox was just as much the right choice as Stewart would have been had he tried out for the role.
Going back to Konig, the up-and-coming actress’ own performance is enjoyable to take in, in its own right. One moment in the story finds her having to firmly correct Gifford about her nationality. That is a key moment as it showed her control. Rather than doing the standard waterworks bit that so many actresses do in similar style scenes, she just stands her ground as she shows her frustration with Gifford. It shows Dorottya as a confident woman and carer who will not let herself be bullied and pushed around. It really is the moment when her friendship with her “mentor” really starts to grow. Her performance in that moment is to be highly commended. Another applause-worthy moment in which Konig shines comes as Dorottya is searching for the hospital where Gifford is being kept after his health scare. No, that story element will not be revealed either. Rather than doing the overly emotional, teary-eyed bit that so many actresses do in such situations, she maintains her composure and confidence, even going so far as to fake being one of Gifford’s family members. It is just another great moment that serves to highlight Dorottya’s confidence. The result of such performance is that she becomes a character that female viewers will appreciate just as much as any viewer who is tired of all of the tearjerker acts that so many actresses conduct in dramas and dramedies. No doubt, such performance should help Konig as her career continues. When her performance and that of Cox is considered along with the performances of the story’s supporting cast, the whole of those performances works with the movie’s central story to make the viewing experience that much more enthralling for audiences. The result of that overall positive impact is a presentation that makes The Carer a welcome option for audiences. It is a movie that audiences would welcome even if movie studios and theaters were not impacted by everything happening around the world for that matter.
Corinth Films’ British import The Carer may not necessarily be a new offering in the purest sense of the word. It originally made its debut overseas four years ago, and only made its domestic debut this year. To that end it is still “new” for American audiences, and keeping that in mind, it is a welcome new cinematic offering for American audiences, considering the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on studios here in the U.S. That is proven in part through its story, which while not necessarily unique at its core, is still unique in its execution. The work of its cast works with the story to more than make up for the lack of any real worthwhile bonus content on the movie’s new DVD release. Keeping all of this in mind, The Carer is a presentation about which any dramedy and drama fans will themselves care. It is available now.
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