By Laurie Coker
People who complete amazing feats of strength, determination, and perseverance fill the world. However, we rarely hear about octogenarians who climb mountains. Director Simon Hunter and screenwriter Elizabeth O’Halloran weave a beautiful tale of life after death – death of a husband that is. Sheila Hancock stars as Edie, a woman far past her prime and destined for a life in assisted living, who choose to reach for summit rather than waste away.
Having spent thirty years caring for a husband she didn’t love, Edie takes hold of her new-found freedom, fostered by relief. Defying her daughter Nancy’s (Wendy Morgan) instance that she lives out the rest of her days in a nursing home, Edie sets out on a journey to conquer Scotland’s Mount Suilven. Tour guides recommend ten daylight hours to ascend the mountain’s 2400 feet a feat challenging to even youthful trekkers, especially against Scotland’s frequent pouring rain. Undaunted, Edie hires Jonny (Kevin Guthrie), a thirty-something-year-old, to act as her guide. In spite of his belief that Edie should listen to her daughter, Jonny forms a bond with her and pushes her to complete the challenge.
British actress Sheila Hancock plays the feisty, tenacious old lady with remarkable ease and her spunk and vigor shine brightly. Even when Edie wants to give up Hancock’s portrayal is wonderfully perfect. Almost as fascinating to see, and at times more so, is Scotland’s picturesque landscape, as revealed through the lens of Cinematographer August Jakobsson. He provides a breathtaking backdrop as the pair make their climb. Virtually devoid of all other humans, the mountain and its beauty offer the postcard image Edie imagined. Guthrie’s Jonny adds the right amount of friendship and friction to their relationship. The result is heartwarming without being overly sweet.
Edie’s tale inspires and not just those who are nearing the sunset of their lives. Many of us can learn from a character like Edie, perhaps starting right now, before the fire inside smolders away. Edie pleases with subtle sentimentality and sheer grit of character. It earns a B in the grade book. It occasionally wanders off its path but manages a gratifying peak.