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Great Escaper, The


Stars: Michael Caine, Glenda Jackson, John Standing, Carlyss Peer, Danielle Vitalis

Director: Oliver Parker

The story of a WW2 veteran who absconded from his care home on the English coast to attend the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings has been turned into a three-handkerchief weepie by director Parker, more at home with comedy and costume drama, with only flashes of darker humour.

Caine and Jackson work as well together as you might expect (almost 50 years after they co-starred in The Romantic Englishwoman) and it's a poignant final film role for the latter, as the wife of the 'escaper' (Caine) , who knows she has but a short time to live.

Their scenes together are skilfully-emoted and will bring tears to the eyes of the easily moved, although the director gives us rather too many lingering close-ups, the war-scene flashbacks look cheap and a scene where Caine and a fellow veteran (Standing) encounter their German counterparts is grindingly overdone when it should be moving.

The (fairly lavish) care home sequences are handled much better, making room for a good performance from Peer as the couple's caring nurse. The panoramic view of mass crosses at Bayeux is, of course, stolen from the ending of Oh! What a Lovely War.

David Quinlan

UK 2023. UK Distributor: Pathe (BBC Films). Colour (unspecified).
96 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 04 Oct 2023