Edie: “It’s never too late.“
Release date: September 6, 2019 (USA)
Production Co: Cape Wrath Films
Producer: Mark Stothert
Director: Simon Hunter
Story by: Edward Lynden-Bell
Screenplay: Simon Hunter, Elizabeth O’Halloran
Music composed by: Debbie Wiseman
Original Language: English (United Kingdom)
Box Office (Gross USA): $71.6K
Runtime: 1h 42m
To be honest, my initial intention for viewing Edie wasn’t to be entertained. As a person over the age of 50, that is trying to fit in as many hiking trails as he can into his lifetime, I wanted to see an old lady over 80 climb a mountain in Scotland. I wanted to sedate this constant fear I have that I my time to hike across mountains is almost over. Long-distance trekking is one of the purest things in my life and has always rewarded me with new friends, heath, boundless adventure, and an endless number of stories to tell. I watched this movie so that it could tell me I have more time to do this thing that I love so much.
One of the true grandes dames of British entertainment, Sheila Hancock, actually climbed through the Scottish Highlands for the filming of this movie at the age of 84! This gave me great joy… and I hadn’t even seen the film yet.
“Edie” is a quiet, understated film. A story about reclaiming your dreams and finding your way; about learning to let go of the past, learning to trust, and accepting help even while your drive is to establish and explore your new independence.
The first long-distance trek I ever completed was the West Highland Way, through the Scottish Highlands. I can assure you that backpackers will appreciate the Scottish scenery and details and mistakes of adventuring outdoors as depicted in Edie.
This is a rare film for mature audiences, with a relatable central female lead character dealing with issues of aging, ageism, and sexism without making an obvious, heavy-handed political statement about it. Her story and her test of will are a trip worth taking.
Sheila Hancock plays a stubborn octogenarian facing a lifetime of regret over her devotion to her domineering late husband. Watching someone regret their entire life, knowing they do not have a chance to do it over, is too tragic for me to watch sometimes. Watching a brilliant actress in a role like this is like a punch in the gut.
Just as she is about to get moved into an assisted living home, Edie pretty much says “fuck it” and buys a ticket to the highlands to live out her dream and fulfill a promise she had made to her father. The film deserves credit for not turning its protagonist into simply a bumbling geriatric or a bitter old crank (although there is a lot of that).
Knowing that this is the first taste of true freedom she has probably had in maybe 50+ years, you are already cheering for Edie, but her cantankerous attitude starts to chip away at this feeling of support. If I had lived in a loveless marriage for the majority of my life, I would probably be bitter too. So brava to Sheila Hancock for getting that right, even if it is not the most endearing character-type to attach to your heroine.
Next we meet her young mountain guide Jonny, played by Kevin Guthrie. He’s an absolutely cutie, with a sparkle in his eye and a character arch that quickly evolves from sports-equipment con-man, to absolute angel. My first thought seeing this charming actor was: ‘this kid has a great future in film’, then I Googled him and found out that he is already everywhere (Fantastic Beasts, Dunkirk, etc.). At least I have a good eye.
The relationship that evolves between Edie and Jonny is unsettling at times, as both of these characters are damaged in their own right. But aren’t we all? Seeing two damaged people trying to somehow fit together can always make me anxious, but the resulting bond between these two is ultimately a beautiful thing to watch unfold.
The film was shot on location in Sutherland, in the Scottish highlands on the Assynt Estate and in Lochinver. Edie’s Journey to Suilven was shot for real and is geographically correct apart from one scene: When Edie sets off toward the mountain, she approaches Suilven from the wrong side. It just so happens that for this shot, the mountain was much more photogenic from this angle.
Beyond the lovely yet unlikely friendship that is created on screen by two brilliant actors, the thrill of watching Sheila Hancock climb a mountain was the next best thing about this film. Sheila gives me hope that I can stop worrying about how much time I have left. Just try not to wait until the very last minute to fulfill your dreams.
The third star of this film is the mountain that must be climbed in order to fulfill Edie’s long-forgotten dream.
Mount Suilven (Scottish Gaelic: Sùilebheinn) is a mountain in Scotland. Lying in a remote area in the west of Sutherland, it rises from a wilderness landscape of moorland, bogs, and lochans known as Inverpolly National Nature Reserve. Suilven forms a steep-sided ridge some 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) in length. The highest point, Caisteal Liath (“Grey Castle” in Scottish Gaelic), lies at the northwest end of this ridge. There are two other summits: Meall Meadhonach (“Middle Round Hill”) at the central point of the ridge is 723 metres (2,372 ft) high, whilst Meall Beag (“Little Round Hill”) lies at the southeastern end.
Maps and Stages: www.walkhighlands.co.uk
At 731 m, Mount Suilven might be considered a wee hill in Scotland (Ben Nevis is nearly twice its height) but once seen, Suilven (pronounced Sool-ven) is a hill never to be forgotten – it is one of Scotland’s most iconic mountains. Made up of two peaks – the quite unbelievable spire of Meall Meadhonach (its name ‘middle-round hill’ in English is, however, a little underwhelming) and the summit on the ‘grey castle’ or Caisteal Liath – has views that are simply incredible if you can make it to the top.
Getting to Mount Suilven takes effort and the walk in from Lochinver can take most of a day. At first, there is a wide track which winds its way through the lochs, bogs and moorland of the Inverpolly National Nature Reserve and then a rocky path which is currently being restored by the Assynt Foundation.
At times the path never seems to get closer to the base of the hill, and once you do finally reach Loch a Choire Dub (loch of the black cliff is a rather apt name) at the foot of the mountain, you will start to wonder just how you are going to get up that cliff face.
The most common route of ascent starts from the end of a public road that leads to Glencanisp Lodge, about 1.5 kilometres (0.9 mi) from Lochinver to the west of the summit. From here a path leads across undulating moorland towards the steep north side of Suilven and the route up to Bealach Mòr (the Great Bealach or Pass) after a little over 2 kilometres (1.2 mi). The final pull up to the bealach is steep, and the path has been re-made with many boulder steps. From here the summit is nearby. The summit itself is broad and grassy, though it is almost totally surrounded by vertical cliffs.
Another route starts from Inverkirkaig, some 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) south of Lochinver: this route reaches the bealach from the south, passing Kirkaig Falls on the way. One may also start from Elphin, on the eastern side. It is possible to reach the ridge without first climbing to Bealach Mòr from this direction, though very exposed scrambling is required, particularly between Meall Meadhonach and Meall Beag.
Whilst climbing Mount Suilven is not technically hard, the hill is 6 miles from the nearest road and involves a near vertical hike to the summit and a very long walk back so bring plenty of food, water and be prepared for changing weather conditions. If you get vertigo, the climb to the summit from the bealach could be a little disorientating.
All these routes involve a round trip of around 25 kilometers (16 mi) over rough terrain.