Old actors never die. Some just look as if they have; or as if they might at any moment. In the first frames of his performance in Mr Morgan’s Last Love, Michael Caine looks alarmingly mortal. Pale skin, pale, fixedly staring eyes; the immobility of a creature condemned to eternal inward contemplation; rigor vitae as a prelude to rigor mortis. He comes alive, thank goodness, quite soon. This sentimental, platitude-strewn film needs him. Caine is good in his designer-gauche way as the bereaved wrinkly coming to terms, or trying, with the death of a wife (Jane Alexander) and seeking to repair the estrangement of two children never entrusted with the secret of her illness. They stayed in America; the expat parents in France.
Caine the character still can’t speak French. Caine the actor still can’t speak American, although – funny world – he won his two Oscars for stateside roles (Hannah and Her Sisters, The Cider House Rules). Here he is again, endearing, credible, quirky; that dogged, slightly knock-kneed waddle of a walk, that staccato voice. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, magnified to human size, it might very well be Sir Michael Caine.