Opening 23 Nov 2023
This geriatric road movie will bring wistful smiles to audiences of all ages, but dives straight to the hearts of those of us whose dads and granddads fought in WWII. It is based on the true story of Bernard Jordan, a former British Royal Navy officer close to 90, who secretly bolts from his nicely appointed care home in Hove, England, to attend the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy in 2014. Michael Caine, slips easily into the role of Bernie as the determined, dignified, and quietly cagey ex-serviceman who will let nothing stop him once he sets out on his mission. His ailing wife Irene (Glenda Jackson) sardonic and primly feisty herself, doesn’t let on that she suspects he has gone AWOL. Bernie had planned on going on an organized tour with other veterans, but he literally missed the boat by signing up too late. But that doesn’t stop this stoic, feeble, often gruff former naval officer—walker and cane in tow—as he sets out on his own to join the other veterans on the cross-channel ferry. He feels he has a debt to repay from a life long ago and has no illusions about either the glory or horror of war.
Never soppy or overly nostalgic, legendary Michael Caine and the venerated Glenda Jackson (recently deceased at age 87) are absolutely brilliant. Ninety-year-old Michael Caine has appeared in more than 160 films over the years, receiving 41 major cinematic awards. Glenda Jackson was in over 40 films, receiving 24 awards including two Academy Awards, three Emmy Awards, and a Tony Award (achieving the American Triple Crown of Acting). No sloucher, Jackson had taken a hiatus from acting between 1992-2015 to enter politics serving as a Labour MP. Flashbacks of young Bernie (Will Fletcher) and young Irene (Laura Marcus) as budding lovers capturing the mystical moments of a sunrise were quite sweet. But their sweetness dissipates rapidly, whooshing away when compared to the incredible performances of Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson watching a similar romantic sunset decades later. The Great Escaper will ultimately be the jewel in the crown that immortalizes their cinematic legacies. (Pat Frickey)