A bitter, proud Scottish widow decides to tick an important item off her bucket list before moving into a retirement home in “Edie,” an uneven dramedy from U.K. commercials helmer Simon Hunter, working from a screenplay by Elizabeth O’Halloran that has a big problem in tone and beaucoup clichéd contrivance. While there’s drama aplenty in the notion that octogenarian Edie Moore (the superb Sheila Hancock) yearns to climb Mount Suilven, in the Highlands, the filmmakers too often undermine the dignity of their appealing protagonist with crude slapstick. Hancock makes a determined heroine who deserves better than the knockabout and patronizing treatment her character suffers. The only thing that does not disappoint is the ravishing and varied landscape, even if it is shot a bit like a tourist board advertisement.
Edie has just lost her husband, who spent the last 30 years of his life in a wheelchair, unable to walk or speak, with her as his primary caregiver. Her brusque daughter, Nancy (Wendy Morgan), tries to hasten a move from the family house into a retirement home without picking up on clues that Edie isn’t quite ready. Indeed, a further wrong note is struck when Nancy gets huffy after snooping into her mother’s private diary, which details the angry feelings she couldn’t share.
As she clears out the detritus of a long life, Edie discovers a postcard of Mount Suilven sent by her father, which reminds her of her wild youth and happier times. She decides that it’s now or never and packs up such an out-of-date assortment of hiking gear that its replacement will later provide the opportunity for a long scene of shameless product placement.
On her way to the fishing village of Lochinver, Edie is knocked flat on a railway platform by sporting goods store manager Jonny (Kevin Guthrie) and his girlfriend Fiona (Amy Manson), a ridiculous meet-cute that will, natch, lead to a growing bond between Edie and Jonny. After inducing her to buy new gear, Jonny also supplies her with some wilderness training: Cue hackneyed scenes of the odd couple getting to know each other better. Edie marvels at the beauty surrounding her, while Jonny just sees a place that he wants to escape from. The screenplay never makes it clear if her message to Jonny — about not waiting and wasting life while there are things you want to do — is understood.
Although it is ultimately presented in the most non-credible of ways, Edie’s ascent of Mount Suilven is as inevitable as the nursery song bear going over the mountain to see what he can see. Perhaps the film’s sudden ending aloft kindly spares the audience an acknowledgment of what the bear does see: the other side of the mountain, or in other words, life being all downhill from there.
Since most viewers will want to know if Sheila Hancock really does climb the mountain, the press kit helpfully notes that she ascended to a steep ridge and camped out in the wilderness for two nights. August Jakobsson’s intimate widescreen lensing makes the effort of her climb palpable. Debbie Wiseman’s over-emphatic score, which is almost as heavy-handed as the screenplay, gets to do some heavy lifting in the film’s nearly dialogue-less final third.