Review: Scottish indie ‘Edie’ aspires to inspire but remains earthbound

Sheila Hancock, ‘Edie’
Sheila Hancock in the movie “Edie.”
(Pascoe Morrissey/Music Box Films)

The low-key Scottish indie “Edie” from director Simon Hunter is a noticeably more grueling version of the well-worn genre of seniors giving life’s challenges one more go — in this case, sending an octogenarian up a mountain.

At 83, English actress Sheila Hancock shows considerable physical grit as the title character, a London housewife whose late widowhood is marked by regret at all she didn’t achieve married to a controlling, then long-invalided husband, not to mention a deteriorating relationship with her grown daughter. On a whim, she travels alone to the Scottish Highlands in the hopes of seeing through a mountain-climbing trip promised and canceled decades ago.

As sentimental as Elizabeth O’Halloran’s screenplay already sounds, it’s made more cloying by adding a young camping-store guide (Kevin Guthrie, trying hard) as the suspicious-then-inspired companion foil for her cranky charms. Hancock can do a lot with a tart line of dialogue or a change in her eyes, but Hunter’s worshipful camera all too often treats Edie as if she’s as much of a monument as Mt. Suilven. Few performances can survive that kind of attention.

There’s lots of pretty location cinematography from August Jakobsson, but much of the story’s resonance as a Merchant Ivory version of “All Is Lost” is undercut by a preponderance of montage storytelling and a score that’s all music-box treacle. Something tells me a documentary on Hancock simply navigating the rigors of “Edie,” as well as acting it to the fullest, might have been more readily inspiring.

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Playing: Starts Sept. 6, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica

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