Friday, 22 April 2016

Eddie The Eagle: Film Review

Eddie The Eagle: Film Review


Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Tim McInnery, Keith Allen, Jo Hartley
Director: Dexter Fletcher

There's no disputing that Michael Edwards aka Eddie The Eagle was a defining character at the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics.

With his Coca Cola bottle bottom strength glasses and unswerving determination as well as his antics on the piste, he was a crowd favourite - and it's easy to see why Sunshine on Leith director Dexter Fletcher was drawn to the story. (Even if they have taken plenty of liberties with the telling of the underdog story).

Kingsman star Taron Egerton takes on the role of the bespectacled wannabe Olympian whose plucky belief dates back to the 70s when he's strapped into a caliper and told repeatedly by his father that he'll never amount to anything on the sporting front. Despite all the odds being stacked against him, and despite his ineptitude threatening to cripple him before he's even started, Edwards resolves to take himself off to the Winter Olympics as the first ever British ski jumper. But with no backing from the British Olympics Association, who view him as a joke, and a distinct lack of support from his dad who's determined Eddie will be a plasterer, the stage is set for struggle and a degree of triumph.

Eddie The Eagle is supposed to be the embodiment of a feel-good film and the personification of the old adage that God loves a trier. Having lived through his "victories", there was something admirable, something innately British and genial about Edwards' unblinking determination to achieve his goal and his continual onslaught against the odds.

Egerton is the epitome of Edwards from his facial tics to his continual pushing up of his glasses, there's just something spot on with his portrayal - even if some will feel he veers close to gurning throughout, Egerton's study of what made Edwards who he was is close to perfection. That said, it doesn't fully help you to engage with his character and he rarely transcends into the loveable loser territory which is needed for an underdog film.

And Jackman's fictional coach who helps Edwards to soar the heights while conquering his own demons makes a good foil too- both leads are likeable if difficult to fully engage with.

Fletcher makes good fist of the material as well, using the obligatory training montage and setting it to Hall and Oates. He also makes the ski jumping seem as daunting as it probably is, by showing the scope of the jumps with some ground level camera shots to set the scene. These are perhaps the major crowning achievement of the film.

Yet, Eddie the Eagle doesn't hit the highs that it aspires too - sure, it's crowd-pleasing in parts but feels restrained in others, and as a result, it never soars as you'd expect it to.

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