Director: Dexter Fletcher
Loosely based on the true story of Michael ‘Eddie’ Edwards—the first competitor to represent the UK in Olympic ski jumping and who was famous for persevering as an underdog and being a “heroic failure”—Eddie the Eagle may sound vaguely familiar to many. That’s because it has been in the works since 2007, and went through several iterations before making it onscreen. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, with actor Taron Egerton cast as the main role of Eddie, the film works to capture the essence of this ‘real life’ cast. Hugh Jackman as Bronson Peary, Eddie’s coach, is an entirely fictional character.
The film has good acting all round. Egerton is marvellous as Eddie, with an odd walk, defiant chin up (to keep the large glasses from falling off his nose), and a woebegone cast to his mouth. Jackman’s crotchety drunk plays foil to Eddie’s characteristic tenacious naivety, and the relationship between the two unfolds in a charming albeit predictable way. Furthermore, Jo Hartley is delightful in her role as Eddie’s mother, and her sweet, cheeky way of continually bypassing Eddie’s father in support of Eddie is one of the highlights of the film for me.
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The score enhances viewers’ emotions throughout the film and successfully helps to build tension, while the original 1988 Olympic footage is skilfully interleaved and serves to enrich the scene that it’s in. Terrifying to watch (for me, anyhow), the ski jumping is mesmerising and even Eddie’s comparatively paltry distances seem incredible. The snow-white landscapes in the background only add to the surrealism of people flinging themselves off slopes and falling, utterly straight-backed, through the air… for fun.
Eddie the Eagle maintains a cheesy poignancy, which is in tune with the film’s dramedy genre and it successfully walks the line of being ridiculously believable without crossing to the preposterous.