Monday, September 9, 2019

Senior trip: Sheila Hancock does a title-role star turn in Simon Hunter's sweet movie, EDIE

Thank goodness for Sheila Hancock and Kevin Guthrie, the two stars of the 2017 film EDIE (just now getting its U.S. theatrical release). Without them and their sterling work -- moment to moment, they play off each other just perfectly -- this sweet but-always-threatening-to-grow-saccharine -- movie might have become intolerable.

The writing and direction are not the culprits; instead, it's the use of the musical score -- credited to Gast Waltzing and featuring a lovely major melody -- which has been allowed to be beaten into the ground so heavily by the finale, which itself provides the heaviest moments, that you'll wish you had brought your own mute button to the theater.

Director Simon Hunter (pictured, right, who also provided the idea for the story; the screenplay is by first-timer Elizabeth O'Halloran) has worked most often in the horror genre, so this aged-senior-decides-to-do-her-own-thing tale must have proven a nice change of pace for the guy. No zombies or mutants to contend with here!

Mr. Hunter has managed a very nice build-up, along with excellent pacing, and the two fine performances he's coaxed from his leads. Actually, I doubt much coaxing was needed, as both Ms Hancock (shown above and below) and Mr. Guthrie (two photos down) have proven themselves more than capable  -- the former since the early 1960s and the latter since the beginning of this century.

Still beautiful at age 83 (when Edie was filmed), Hancock has a remarkable face, which she uses with both subtlety and force (when needed). Her Edie, thankfully, is a nicely rounded character: prickly, sweet and alternately closed and open to at least some degree of change.

In the role of Jonny, the fellow who initially knocks her off her feet (along with his ever-rushing girlfriend, played by Amy Manson, below), Guthrie, above, is Hancock's equal at winning us over without using anything but his skill, charm and good looks. That Edie and Jonny will bond is of course obvious from the get-go. But the smart, funny little pas-de-deux in which they consistently engage proves as engaging as it is believable.

The plot, such as it is, has to do with Edie's need/desire to climb a certain mountain in Scotland (seen below) -- no Everest, mind you, but a real jaunt -- and Edie, just like Hancock, is 83 years of age. Little wonder the locals do not expect this old woman to manage it.

Does she? Does it matter all that much? And why? Or is simply trying the main accomplishment here? You'll find out, as the film builds (so does that music, unfortunately) to its inspirational, feel-good finish. And thanks to these two wonderful actors, you'll happily note that -- as we've often been told -- it's the journey that matters much more than the destination.

From Music Box Films and running 102 minutes, Edie opened this past Friday, September 6, in New York City at the Angelika Film Center, and in Los Angeles at several Laemmle theaters. Here in South Florida, it opens this Friday, September 13, at the Bill Cosford Cinema, Miami, and the Living Room Theaters, Boca Raton. Click here and scroll down to click on Theatrical Engagements to view all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters.

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