Edie

 

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A committed lead performance in a film aimed at older viewers.

 
Edie

Sheila Hancock

 

Let us start with the good news: now in her eighties, the actress Sheila Hancock is given the opportunity here to play a role that puts her screen centre and, in creating the character of Edie, she goes for it wholeheartedly. Furthermore, Simon Hunter’s film set in Scotland makes good use of striking scenery near Inverness and Kevin Guthrie in the other leading role provides straightforward able support.

 

That said, Edie may well prove divisive even among its target audience.  Edward Lynden-Bell came up with the story and Elizabeth O’Halloran wrote the screenplay. Between them, they tell of an elderly widow who, having devoted herself to an unappreciative husband for years, comes to feel that she has wasted her life. Only now with the release offered by his death does she break free to seize the idea of living up to the wild child she once was and to do this by travelling north to climb Mount Suilven. Once at her destination in Scotland, she encounters Jonny (Guthrie’s role). He runs a camping shop and, encouraged by his business partner to offer help to Edie, he does so: but the real motive is to take advantage of her in order to aid their financial problems. In time, however, a bond of friendship develops between Jonny and Edie that renders him remorseful: should he now persuade her that the climb is too hazardous for her or should he encourage her to fulfil her dream?

 

Given the unlikely nature of the tale, the target audience to which I have referred is obviously one made up of older women who will sympathise with Edie - perhaps even identify with her - and who will welcome this narrative as a piece of wish-fulfilment. Much of the film’s first half is light in tone, which suits the near-fantasy aspect of the story being told. Hancock brings out Edie’s spirit fittingly, but at times the writing is humorous at Edie’s expense, which doesn’t always help. However, it is the second half of Edie which raises the greatest doubts. The film becomes increasingly dramatic and, with Jonny’s sensible girlfriend Fiona (Amy Manson) sagely advising him that it would be folly not to discourage a frail octogenarian from climbing a mountain, the screenplay struggles unsuccessfully to find a convincing way to reach the film’s predestined climax.

 

Some viewers will go along with all this despite the sheer implausibility of it, while others will reach a point at which incredulity will make them turn off. What can be said with certainty is this: if anybody could swing it, that person is Sheila Hancock.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Sheila Hancock, Kevin Guthrie, Wendy Morgan, Amy Manson, Paul Brannigan, Donald Pelmear, Christopher Dunne, Rachael Keiller, Daniela Bräuer, Calum Macrae, Tori Butler Hart.

 

Dir Simon Hunter, Pro Mark Stothert, Screenplay Elizabeth O'Halloran, from a story by Edward Lynden-Bell, Ph August Jakobsson, Pro Des Chris Richmond, Ed Olly Stothert, Music Debbie Wiseman, Costumes Georgina Napier.

 

Cape Wrath Films-Arrow Films.
101 mins. UK. 2017. Rel: 25 May 2018. Cert. 12A.