Edie – movie review

by Peter Calder / 05 July, 2018
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Scotland shines in Edie, an odd-couple movie that’s more schematic than authentic.

Stories set in late life are something of a cinematic subgenre these days, perhaps in response to the fact that moviegoers in the Netflix age are disproportionately wrinkly. Yet the current crop, including the mawkish and predictable Finding Your Feet, and the recent missed opportunity that is The Leisure Seeker, suggests there remains much room for improvement.

In Edie, 85-year-old Sheila Hancock plays the title character, Edith Moore, whose husband’s death in the opening reel, we later learn, frees her from the lifetime duty of servitude to a cruel bully, though it leaves her under the watchful eye of an impatient and judgmental daughter, who wants to ship her off to a rest home. Reorganising the attic, Edith comes across a postcard from her late father, with whom she went camping and high-country climbing as a girl. She stares thoughtfully into space …

The picture on the postcard is of Suilven, a mountain (of sorts; it’s not as big as Pūtauaki/Edgecumbe) in north-western Scotland, which her dad always promised to climb with her, and there are no prizes for guessing what happens next. It’s enough to say it involves her hiring a guide and fitness coach, Jonny (Kevin Guthrie), whose initial intention – to separate an old Sassenach from her money – evaporates as he begins to like her.

His process of preparing her for the challenge involves more product placement than you can shake a walking pole at; if outdoor-equipment companies didn’t help with financing, they missed a trick. VisitScotland must also be thrilled at the film’s depiction of blue skies and sunlit uplands on which rain falls only as a plot device.

It’s more schematic than authentic, and anyone with a smidgen of tramping experience will wince at the improbabilities, such as the extravagant campsite that emerges from a pack evidently no heavier than a handbag.

More disappointingly, it’s an odd-couple movie in which the couple, divided by two generations, don’t really develop. They learn from each other and the teachable moments are underlined with a syrupy score that makes sure we don’t miss any of them, but it’s a film of strategically placed crises and no surprises at all. Beautiful scenery, though.

Video: Truffle Pictures

IN CINEMAS NOW

★★1/2

This article was first published in the July 7, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

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