Edie

***

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Edie
"Its strong emotional hub keeps you with the film, even as it flirts with tourist board-style promotional material."

One of several films at 2017's Edinburgh Film Festival to feature older female protagonists played by actresses who show no signs of waning - including Where Is Kyra? (Michelle Pfeiffer), Maya Dardel (Lena Olin) and Strange Weather (Holly Hunter), Edie is chiefly a showcase for veteran British star Sheila Hancock.

At 84 years old, she is the perfect age to play Edie, a woman whose life, if not her best years, is mostly lying behind her. A long-term carer for a husband whose illness trapped her in a loveless marriage, his death at the start of the film brings a surge of regret for her "wasted years". With her daughter planning the next step for her in a care home, she chances upon an old rucksack that sparks memories of her father and a promised trip they never managed to take.

Inspired, she decides to dust off her camping gear and head to Scotland to attempt the mountain climb on Suilven, in Sutherland, they'd often talked about. Director Simon Hunter and writer Elizabeth O'Halloran deal with the early beats of the film well, giving us time to get to know Edie and not making light of crankiness. Sound is also used well to create a landscape of Edie's memories. Once she heads north, things become more formulaic. Ill-prepared for the climb that lies ahead she falls in with local equipment shop owner and guide Johnny (Kevin Guthrie, with his charm on full beam), who agrees to help her make the climb, little realising that she will genuinely go through with it. (The Scottish Tourist Board will no doubt be having a conniption at thought of an army of ill-prepared octogenarians being inspired to try this after watching the film).

What emerges is a gently comic odd-couple dynamic tinged with Edie's regret and Johnny's misgivings about his own relationship. This strong emotional hub keeps you with the film, even as it flirts with tourist board-style promotional material - shots of the inside of a pub, in particular, filled with a range of people who surely only exist in films, could have been cut for a 'visit the Highlands' advert. While there is no denying the beauty of the Scottish landscape, and cinematographer August Jakobsson's ability with a camera, Hunter also falls too far in love with drone shots of the countryside. The arrival later of a bothy that seems more like a spa break than the real thing, is also over-egged.

At its best when emphasising the humans at its heart, this is a familiar story arc, lent considerable added weight by Hancock's intense performance and her onscreen chemistry with Guthrie.

Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2017
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After the death of her controlling husband, a woman decides to fulfil her dream of climbing a mountain.

Director: Simon Hunter

Writer: Simon Hunter, Edward Lynden-Bell, Elizabeth O'Halloran

Starring: Sheila Hancock, Kevin Guthrie, Paul Brannigan, Amy Manson, Wendy Morgan, Rachael Keiller, Donald Pelmear, Daniela Bräuer, Christopher Dunne, Tori Butler Hart, Calum Macrae, Tanya Winsor, Sallyann Fellowes, Wynne Potts, Tom McHugh

Year: 2017

Runtime: 102 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

EIFF 2017

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