Bill Milner stars as a ten-year-old named Edward, living in the attic of the nursing home, owned by his parents. Seeing so many patients leaving this world, alone, he wonders if there's anything more to be hopeful of when life ends. Taping patients with a recorder he carries around, Edward has what some might think to be a morbid curiosity. However, upon befriending "The Amazing Clarence," (Michael Caine)a magician, suicidal upon his wife's death and the fear of being left alone, both learn some important lessons that only such a strange setting could bring about. As with his previous efforts(INTERMISSION, BOY A), director John Crowley shows a unique talent at exploring unusual characters and making them vibrant, and memorable, sometimes with great sadness.
Everyone in the cast is terrific, but Caine, once again, proves he's among a set of actors few can ever match. Much in the same way Streep demonstrates, Caine conveys so much depth without even a word having to be spoken. It's incredible to watch, but there's also much more to appreciate with "IS ANYBODY THERE" than even Caine. The script takes a story that could've been standard melodrama and pushes it into directions one wouldn't expect, leaving the viewers with an appreciation for the experience, unlike most films of recent memory.
MAGNOLIA offers the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this VC-1 encoded 1080p blu-ray. The lighting and film stock has been chosen for an extremely stylized design, creating colors that are almost surreal, and the effect is thoroughly captivating in most moments outside of the nursing home. Inside, however, colors are intentionally subdued. Contrast is excellent and deep blacks prevent detail from being swallowed up in darkness. A very good transfer.
For a drama with the setting of "IS ANYBODY THERE," the soundmix is surprisingly immersive. MAGNOLIA has provided a mix wherein subtle effects are consistently in play with the surrounds and the experience, while never flashy, is natural and engaging. Dialogue is generally impressive, although a few spots of dialogue are hard to discern, preventing it from being "reference quality," but still quite good.