Edie is a surprising film. It sets out in a quietly unassuming way and then develops into something moving and powerful. It tells the story of a widow in her early eighties, Edie (Sheila Hancock), who did not marry well. She 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 old, unrealised wish. Old hiking gear, and a postcard.
It’s a postcard from her long-gone father, bearing the picture of a mountain in the Scottish Highlands. Suilven. It has a distinctive profile.
Edie’s daughter Nancy (Wendy Morgan) takes her out to visit a retirement home. It is luxurious, in a grand setting with a brass chandelier, and activities include flower arranging. Edie snips off the head of a yellow rose. This is not the place for her. She is still physically strong and independent. The home’s residents seem to all be going quietly into the night. This seems inconceivable to Edie. It soon becomes clear, in any case, that she is not the type of person to be led quietly anywhere. She forms a plan.
Edie leaves a message for her daughter to say she will be away for a few days – a first for her. 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 her train, having arrived at her destination. He is just being told off by his somewhat bossy girlfriend Fiona (Amy Manson). Fiona and Jonny, both young, in their twenties, run an outdoor equipment shop. She wants to take out a big loan to expand the business. He is not keen, worried about the risk, and the long repayment time. It becomes apparent that he might be embarking into something that is not right for him.
Eddie and Jonny’s collision somehow results in a wonderful and incident-laden friendship. They have some lively, great arguments. Edie is stubborn. She 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 that she is determined to go it alone. It is a huge undertaking, and demanding even for someone younger and fitter. 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. Making the film was physically demanding, especially for its lead, Sheila Hancock, as so much of the film was shot on the mountain, and this required much of the cast and crew to hike significant distances too.
The direction is clearly thoughtful and finely tuned, and August Jakobsson’s cinematography does justice to the landscapes and skies of the Scottish Highlands. There are some finely thought out shots. One 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 and yet un-showy. Like Edie herself, this is a film that is quietly understated but in fact really quite magnificent.
Director: Simon Hunter
Based on an idea by Simon Hunter, story by Edward Lynden-Bell, screenplay by Elizabeth O’Halloran
Cinematography: August Jakobsson
Cast: Sheila Hancock, Kevin Guthrie, Paul Brannigan, Amy Manson, Daniela Bräuer, Wendy Morgan