“Edie” Struggles to Summit the Mountain

Matthew Dillon, Staff Writer

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Originally released in 2017, the British film “Edie” follows an elderly woman’s (Sheila Hancock) effort to climb a Scottish mountain.

While Edie doesn’t appear to be in a condition to climb the imposing Mount Suliven, she hopes to find a long-lost sense of happiness through the challenge.

However, this decent-enough premise doesn’t save “Edie” from being a largely empty experience. The movie leans a bit too much into sentimentality and clichés to be truly notable.

Despite its attempt to be an inspiring, triumphant story, “Edie” seems to take place in a bleak alternate reality drawn from pompous boomer articles where its opinions of millennials are actually consistent with reality; in the film, the young are oblivious in their few attempts to help doing more harm than good.

The elderly aren’t characterized any better, though. In “Edie,” happiness resides in a distant, more vibrant past.

Whenever Edie’s dedication falters, the sight of one of her peers struggling with an air tank or a walker renews her commitment. One of the more effective aspects of the film is Edie confronting her own mortality and lamenting a life wasted.

However, the movie’s approach to old age still feels a bit cruel. It’s hard to accept the film’s central premise — that Edie won’t let her ailing health stop her — when it treats the other, nameless, elderly characters as a form of warning at best and a grim omen at worst.

Even with this paradigm, “Edie” still had a chance to tackle its difficult subject properly. Unfortunately, none of the characters feel like real people.

Hancock brings a sense of humanity to the regretful yet determined Edie with her performance, but it is unfortunately offset by the weakness of the writing and the general presentation of the film.

Aside from Edie, the characters lack complexity and even the illusion of it. Jonny (Kevin Guthrie) is a mountaineering shop owner who ends up as Edie’s guide to keep his business afloat.

The character goes through a fairly complete arc but falls short of being compelling. Guthrie’s performance is weak in places, but his exchanges with Hancock are the only part of the film that consistently feel genuine, as the two find kinship in their hopes as well as their fears of what the future holds.

The insincerity of the film also stems from its cinematography. The beautiful Scottish highlands take center stage throughout “Edie.”

It’s so prominent that the film often feels like a tourism advertisement. The film’s reliance on slow motion and postcard-like lighting doesn’t help.

A few interesting approaches to framing and sound pop up in each scene, but only a handful of them really stick.

While it fell short of its goals, some of the powerful emotions “Edie” hoped to convey make their way into the finished product.

Much like the protagonist’s journey, it’s far from a fruitless effort when you consider the struggles it took to reach the end.

As lacking as the film might be, it’s still the kind of earnest, more personal story that’s getting pushed out of theaters in favor of cinematic universes, reboots and Blumhouse Productions horror movies.

Unfortunately, “Edie” is far from the most compelling defense you could make in favor of the self-contained drama genre.