This is mainly going to be remembered as Glenda Jackson's last movie, and what a glorious swansong it is. Her ancient, heavily lined face - far removed from the face of Elizabeth the First, the role that sealed her stardom in 1971 - conveys shades of emotion that not all actresses can hint at. She's playing Irene Jordan, the wife of Bernard (Michael Caine) who has gone AWOL from the care home in which they live, taking himself off to Normandy to attend the 70th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings.
This is another of those small movies with a big heart. Nothing very dramatic happens (apart from brief flashbacks to D-Day which Bernard's best pal did not survive). John Standing has a nice supporting role as another veteran who takes Bernard under his wing; there was a hint of camp in Standing's performance, which made me think an LGBT 'attitude' moment could and should have been shoe-horned in.
Michael Caine has weathered the years better than Jackson (or he's had some work done, which Glenda very clearly has not). His performance is not quite as subtle as hers, but this is a beguiling and totally believable reconstruction of an episode which made the papers back in 2014. A couple who have loved each other for seventy years are two people you have to take your heart.
RIP Glenda, one of the finest actresses Britain ever produced. And Happy Retirement to Sir Michael, who has given us a great deal of pleasure in a long and splendidly wide-ranging screen career.
Reviewed by Sleepin_Dragon10 / 10
Film making at its very best.
Having missed an organised trip to the 70th anniversary of The D-Day landings, 90 year old Bernard John makes his own way to France, leaving behind his wife and care home.
I suppose I'd start by saying that I didn't want this film to end, magical from beginning to end. Bernard's story touched many people, I remember it being on The BBC news back in 2014.
They could have made the film overly sentimental or too sobre, but they struck the perfect mix, it's heartfelt, touching, inspiring and amusing, it's such a moving, real life story.
Several times it tugged away at the heart strings, the most powerful moment for me where Bernard say with The Germans, I had a lump in my throat.
The acting was truly incredible, it's the best I've seen from Michael Caine for many years, the emotion he put into this was quite something. What a send of for the late, great Glenda Jackson, again, a superb performance, the chemistry between her and Caine was noticeable.
John Standing also added to the mix, another actor who'd graced our screens for so long, wonderful.
One I'll happily watch over.
Reviewed by CinemaSerf7 / 10
The Great Escaper
This is one of those contemporary, really quite touching, dramas that we won't be able to make for too much longer. It centres around an elderly couple, who have been together for seventy years, and live a semi-independent life in a care home. During a routine chat with their nurses, "Rene" (Glenda Jackson) discovers that her husband "Bernie" (Sir Michael Caine) had wanted to go to the impending celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, but that all the tickets had gone. She makes it pretty clear that if he wants to go, well then he ought to just go! Armed with a only a carrier bag and a few quid, he takes a ferry and heads off on a trip that is going to induce some fairly horrific memories of events in 1945 - which we sparingly see in flashback - but is also going to provide him with a degree of fulfilment and closure on issues that have dogged him ever since. Snag? Well he didn't actually tell anyone he was going, so the home are worried, the police are looking and the media soon get hold of his tale of determination and a degree of celebrity beckons. It's a very characterful story, this, with a gentle chemistry between Jackson and Caine, and also between Caine and his newfound travelling companion "Arthur" (a proud performance from John Standing) as they both have to face their demons past and present. There's plenty of humour - a decent soupçon of sarcasm; along with a spirit of optimism and reconciliation that works well, without drifting into cheesy sentiment, for ninety minutes. It reminded me of the equally poignant BBC drama "A Foreign Field" (1993) and is a good, at times thought-provoking watch.