Edie is a surprising film. It sets out in an unassuming way and develops into something genuinely affecting. It tells the story of a widow in her early eighties, Edie.
Edie (Sheila Hancock) quietly mourns; not her husband, who had been unkind and had stifled her, but her dreams. One day, clearing her attic, she finds the remnants of an unrealised wish. Old hiking gear, and a postcard. It’s a postcard from her long-gone father, bearing the picture of a mountain with a distinctive profile, in the Scottish Highlands. Suilven.
One day, Edie’s daughter Nancy (Wendy Morgan) takes her out to visit a retirement home – luxurious, in a grand setting with a brass chandelier, and with activities that include flower arranging. As Edie snips off the head of a yellow rose, she makes clear this is not the place for her. She is still physically strong and independent while the residents all seem to be going quietly into the night.
This seems inconceivable to Edie. She is not the type of person to be led quietly anywhere. She forms a plan, and leaves a message for her daughter to say she will be away for a few days. This a first. She has not been away, anywhere, in all those years of a sad marriage. Off she takes the train, all the way from London to Scotland, and towards Suilven. Her adventure starts, and the film soars.
Along the way, she meets Jonny (Kevin Guthrie) – or rather, they collide as she steps off the train. He is just being told off by his bossy girlfriend Fiona (Amy Manson). They own together an outdoor equipment shop, and have very different views about the business’s future.
Eddie and Jonny’s collision results in a wonderful and incident-laden friendship. They have lively, great arguments. Edie has sacrificed too much in the past and wants to grasp the present, enjoying the life she has left. Jonny helps her prepare for the hike up Suilven, not quite believing she will really do this, and then not quite believing she is determined to go it alone.
What happens next is exhilarating, and moving.
Based on an idea by director Simon Hunter, the film has a well-honed script, with great dialogue, and thoughtful and finely tuned direction. Making the film was physically demanding, especially for its lead, Sheila Hancock – a good part of the film was shot on the mountain, and this required much of the cast and crew to hike significant distances.
August Jakobsson’s cinematography does justice to the landscapes and skies of the Scottish Highlands. An overhead shot follows a car along winding roads, and then just as the car follow a tight curve in the road, the camera veers off and away towards the horizon. It is all beautiful yet un-showy. Like Edie herself, this is a film that is understated but with quiet strengths.
Director: Simon Hunter
Based on an idea by Simon Hunter and a story by Edward Lynden-Bell
Screenplay: Elizabeth O’Halloran
Cinematography: August Jakobsson
Cast: Sheila Hancock, Kevin Guthrie, Paul Brannigan, Amy Manson, Daniela Bräuer, Wendy Morgan