The Great Escaper

Verdict: A joyful delight with extraordinary performances from Glenda Jackson and Michael Caine

  • Glenda Jackson, Michael Caine, Danielle Vitalis
  • October 6th 2023
  • Oliver Parker

Michael Caine plays a Royal Navy veteran who escaped from his retirement home in 2014 and went to France for the D-Day commemorations.

The late Glenda Jackson, who passed away in June, concludes her storied career with a sensational performance in The Great Escaper.

The veteran actress plays Irene ‘Rene’ Jordan alongside Michael Caine as her husband Bernard ‘Bernie’ Jordan in Oliver Parker’s new drama.

It tells the true story of the World War II Royal Navy veteran who escaped from their nursing home in Hove in 2014 and travelled to France for the 70th-anniversary commemorations of D-Day.

Rene is confined to her room at the care home while Bernie is off on his adventure, but her scenes are just as entertaining to watch because Jackson gives Rene so much personality and energy.

The script is sharp and surprisingly funny in general, but Rene’s lines are particularly delightful because she has a great sense of humour, a sassy attitude and is brutally honest.

Jackson is the scene-stealer of the film but Caine will blow you away with his vulnerable performance. He has never been this raw and emotional on-screen before and he is very moving – you might even need tissues!

There are no weak links in the supporting cast either, with the most memorable performances coming from John Standing as Bernie’s fellow veteran Arthur and Danielle Vitalis as care home worker Adele.

Parker’s movie manages to balance the humour in Bernie and Rene’s personalities and the light-hearted tone of Bernie’s journey with the serious, emotional side of the subject matter.

For example, it shines a light on Bernie’s experience with post-traumatic stress disorder and shows how it affects soldiers differently.

The only drawback was the apparent budget restraints, which meant Parker had to get creative with his depiction of D-Day in the flashbacks. Also, exterior shots set in France could have been more convincing as they were very obviously shot in England.

However, these niggles can be forgiven because the film is such a joy. If Caine decides to retire after this one, he would have gone out on a high.

In cinemas from Friday 6th October.

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