Suffering from Parkinson’s disease and being cooped up in his country estate, has left retired Shakespearean actor Sir Michael Gifford (Brian Cox) rather crabby and frustrated. Having ejected all previous would be carers, his daughter spearheads an intervention that sees Dorottya(Coco König) – a young Hungarian home help with acting aspirations of her own, tasked with the job of tending to this aging thespian grump. What blossom’s between these two kindred spirits is a funny and heart-warming tale on the acceptance of one’s own mortality.
While the narrative is certainly a simple one (akin toScent of a Woman), the key to the film’s success here lays in its rich dialogue and beautifully realised central characters. Putting the central duo at the heart of the narrative throughout its entirety, is an inspired move byEdelényi, as it allows the chemistry and friendship between Michael and Dorottya to feel gradual and more importantly, real.
Written by three gifted scribes – including the film’s director János Edelényi and the late Gilbert Adair, gives the acting prowess of Brian Cox something to really get his teeth into and play around with. The dialogue is smart, punchy and incredibly funny, enabling Cox to deliver one of his most enigmatic screen performances in recent memory, in a role that feels almost written for him. Alongside Cox is Hungarian newcomer Coco König. She delivers a warm and confident performance as Dorottya, offering a hidden vulnerability that plays extremely well against Cox’smore gravitas delivery.
It could be argued that some of the minor supporting roles do suffer from being rather one dimensional, but so good is the chemistry between the two central characters, that any missteps the film may have along the way, are indeed minor footnotes in what is otherwise one of the most enjoyable cinematic treats at this year’s 70th Edinburgh International Film Festival.