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The on most accounts mild and unremarkable The Great Escaper caters specifically for the Sunday afternoon senior crowd, but veterans Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson give acting masterclasses.

Ten years ago, pensioner and World War Two veteran Bernie Jordan escaped his Sussex care home in order to attend the D-Day celebrations in Normandy. His story is now turned into a film that not only celebrates the sacrifices that veterans made, but also the love between Bernie and his wife.

The approach is not totally successful however. The plot is rather slight, most of the supporting characters are merely there to hammer home a message and The Great Escaper’s forte definitely isn’t visual storytelling. The movie’s major flaw are the flashbacks to 1944, scattered throughout the picture. They sap the momentum from the real driving force behind the film: actors Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson.

Caine, who has stated this will be his last film, hasn’t been this good in years: he finds a poignant balance between resolve, heart and nostalgia in his touching portrayal of Bernie. As his wife Rene, Glenda Jackson, who died shortly after completing the film, is equally impressive as she finds a thorough fierceness beneath the obvious frailty that is clearly on show.

What you’ll remember from The Great Escaper thus likely won’t be the story, or the underlying themes and morals, but the spectacle of two masters of their craft, doing what they do best: forming a bond with the audience through relatable, striking, beautiful performances.

The film is a fitting tribute to the class they brought to every single one of their roles throughout the years.

release: 2024

director: Oliver Parker

starring: Michael Caine, Glenda Jackson, John Standing, Danielle Vitalis


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