The film, based on a true story stars Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson is out in cinemas today. But what have critics had to say about it?

The Guardian: **** “There’s a huge amount to enjoy from these legendary performers: Caine and Jackson are a great double-act, despite being apart for much of the film, and the film imagines an interesting and poignant rapport between Bernard and an elderly ex-RAF officer on the ferry, sympathetically played by John Standing, who is heading for Normandy while crucified by a secret guilt. Caine has a bold flash of rage by the official graves at all the criminal waste of lives created by war.”

The Independent: ** “Parker occasionally finds himself drawn into that same pat, patriotic sentimentalism – the type which patronises older generations by treating them as strange curiosities (Look at him go! All the way to France! By himself!) In its best moments, the film functions as more of a character study, brought to life by a pair of established luminaries taking their final bows: Sir Michael Caine (Bernie) in what he’s decided will be his penultimate role, and the late Glenda Jackson, as his wife, Irene. In their depictions, we see a couple who’ve realised they’ve both reached a point in their lives where all they can do is live inside their memories.”

Financial Times: ** “The mood is made instantly melancholy by the presence of Glenda Jackson as Jordan’s mischievous wife Irene. In her last role before her death this summer, she is the best thing in the film, pin-sharp where it is out of focus. The actual breakout — a little oversold, it turns out — is done in minutes. The rest of the film is palpably nervous about how to keep itself going. The answer lies with disjointed D-Day flashbacks, and scenes in modern France stilted enough to muddy even the sense of wartime loss.”

Evening Standard: *** “Although the real Bernie Jordan passed away in 2015, seven months after his great escape, he’s brought to life here by the legendary charmer Michael Caine, starring opposite the late, great Glenda Jackson as Bernie’s spritely wife Rene. The pair have a delightful, easy chemistry together, and the film’s greatest asset is the scenes they share, which sweetly capture a decades-long devotion.”

The Daily Mail: **** “But The Great Escaper never lurches into clunky sentimentality, and whenever it looks as if it might, Caine and Jackson pull it back. This isn’t quite the former’s final fling — he’s said to be featuring in one last film before he retires for good — but what a joy to find him and Jackson, almost 50 years after they appeared together in The Romantic Englishwoman (1975), showing that you can be as old as the hills yet still at the top of your game.”

Silver “This film, despite – or perhaps because of – being a well-grounded and honest portrayal, is a huge heart-string-tugger. Aside from the story itself, which is emotive enough, there is the backdrop of flashbacks that build out both the relationship between Rene and Bernie, and also the horror of the D-Day landings.”

Radio Times: *** “Some will find all this a little pat – but the real draw is watching Caine, who plays his role with complete dignity. Jackson, too, is an irascible presence, and her performance will move many. The final shots of the two of them on the promenade suggest two epic acting careers that are coming to a close – and suitably, doing so hand-in-hand.”

The Telegraph: **** “Michael Caine is brilliant as a D-Day veteran who sneaks out of his retirement home – but the late actress is a force of nature to the last”

Empire: **** “A moving and surprisingly nuanced drama offering far more than flag-waving nostalgia. Superb performances from Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson ensure the latter’s final screen role is fittingly dignified.”

The Arts Desk: *** “Unfortunately, it’s not quite as well written or directed as its stars deserved. Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson have had better scripts in their long careers, but they both do a magnificent job with what they’ve been given and tears will flow.”

iNews: *** “The film flits about too casually between subjects that demand more focus – the war, old age, true love – to be truly great, but it does have terrific moments, most notably those shared by grief-stricken veterans. Slow and sometimes near-silent scenes expose the dark underbelly beneath that cheeky-chappy façade – scenes where faces, not flashbacks, do all the work.”


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