Eddie The Eagle
Directed by Dexter Fletcher
Starring Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Tim McInnerny (NFF Patron)
Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards was the first Olympic British ski jumper, who represented Britain in the 1988 Winter Olympics. He is famous for being rather poor at the sport, but making up for it in drive and passion- earning him the love of the public. It’s a beautiful underdog story. It would be fitting then for a film about him to be rather poor in quality but to make up in charm and charisma. It would be fitting, but this isn’t that film- this isn’t a film that’s poor in anything. Eddie The Eagle is one of the best British film to come out in years.
The film follows Eddie Edwards (Egerton), a child with a dream to be an Olympian, as he realises this dream. He has to overcome the hurdles of a restrictive upbringing, condescending peers, and a gaping lack of talent, as he trains to partake in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Together with trainer Bronson Peary (Jackman), he must learn in a short space of time how to become a hero.
After his appearance in Kingsmen: The Secret Service, Taron Egerton showed that he was a name to watch- as this performance confirms. As Edwards he has perfected not a role but a character- with his own mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, idiolect, and all the flaws that the real Eddie Edwards must have exhibited. His acting is phenomenal throughout. Hugh Jackman is great too- initially he seems to be half-hearted about his role until you realise that this is the character, and as he grows and warms to Eddie, Jackman spreads his wings. Watching the pair is joyous.
If there’s one unexpected gem in the film it’s the soundtrack. The composer, Matthew Margeson, is far from an established name- but this score perfectly juggles motifs and emotions a way John Williams or Ennio Morricone rarely manage. Coupled with some very well-chosen pre-composed songs, the soundtrack to this film deserves to be placed among the classics of film scores.
Due to being a film about going up and down mountains, you’d expect the cinematography to be quite repetitive. Whilst there are a few too many aerial shots of the mountains, a lot is done to reduce the repetition. Many perspectives are used over the film to portray ultimately identical actions and you never feel like you’re watching the same thing too much. One small issue is the CGI- although rarely necessary for obvious reasons, the falls that occur several times in the film from slopes are very obviously computer animated. For such a small amount of CGI necessary, you’d think they could spend a little more time on it.
The film is being advertised as a ‘feel-good British film’, and this perfectly sums up the tone. We’re being encouraged to cast aside our mundane jobs- Eddie’s dad wants him to become a plasterer- and achieve our dreams. We’re taught that even failure is a success if doing something we love. Whilst you’d expect these messages to be dripping with cliché and smugness, that isn’t the case- director Fletcher has somehow managed to create a 100-minute feel-good flick whilst never making us wince or recoil from what we see. He manages to subvert our expectations of the outcome of events; he manages to get us to love this loser of Eddie- and the film is unexpectedly humorous as a cherry on top.
Feel good films don’t have a good reputation, but Eddie the Eagle is a fantastic film. From the incredibly emotive score to the perfect acting, Eddie the Eagle flies from success to success. Coming out amongst the likes of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice and 10 Cloverfield Lane it is a great tonal juxtaposition, but regardless of its context it deserves to be a timeless British film. It delivers cheesy message after cheesy message yet never overstays its welcome, and leaves you grinning for the entirety of the runtime. And as one of the first feature films for many of the cast- director Dexter Fletcher; composer Matthew Margeson; actor Taron Egerton- it’s surprising that the film is such a blast.
By Tom Bedford