Rating: 4.5 / 5
In the current climate of issues of women and respect being under the media microscope, Edie is a timely reminder of the need to respect older women.
Edie is a blunt Englishwoman in her eighties. As the film opens we see that the husband she has looked after for over 30 years has died. For all this time he has been mute and confined to a wheelchair following a stroke, and Edie’s life has been totally consumed by the need to care for him.
That is a challenge in itself, but add in the fact that husband George appears to have been an unpleasant bully, and his death is the catalyst for Edie reclaiming her life.
As a young woman, Edie’s father had proposed that they climb Mt Suilven in the Northern Scottish Highlands, but George refused to let her go.
Now she is free, Edie decides to fulfil that wish on her bucket list, but has to outmanoeuvre a daughter who is sure that her old mum needs a nursing home and flower-arranging classes.
Just watching this uncomfortable interaction between mother and daughter is a salient reminder to the viewer that there is a difference between helping our elderly and taking control of their lives.
Edie herself is not the easiest character—she has a sharp tongue and a lack of patience with the world, so it takes a while to warm to her.
But as the film progresses, we gravitate towards her, and there is great joy in watching Edie gradually unbend and embrace life again.
Great British actor Sheila Hancock is Edie, and she is an actor of great subtlety, with the most stunning blue eyes you may ever see on screen.
In most films, stunt people are used to do the tough physical stuff, like climbing Mt Suilven. But not in this case—at the age of 83, Hancock did all her own climbing, despite the fact that she is afraid of heights.
In Edie, she befriends a young Scottish man Jonny (Kevin Guthrie) who seems to lack direction in life but is intrigued by Edie, becoming her helpmate in preparing her for the climb. As he monitors her while she attempts her grand solo climbing feat, he discovers new depths within himself, so by the end of the movie two people at very different points of their lives have changed for the better.
There is a lot of caring for people in this film, albeit in a gritty way, and it’s heartening to see the way respect, compassion and collaboration become important elements in the film. There are also awkward moments where younger people treat Edie as a joke, which made my blood boil.
But in the end, it’s Edie’s resilience that triumphs as she faces her own wilderness experience, both geographically and psychologically.
+ Towering performance from Sheila Hancock; the cinematography
- Coarse language