Film Review: ‘Eddie the Eagle’

Directed by: Dexter Fletcher

Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman

Certificate: PG

Original Release Date: February 2016 (US Release) March 2016 (UK Release)

Review by Miriam Atkinson

Every so often a film comes along that exceeds all your expectations. Eddie the Eagle is a biopic about Olympian Michael ‘Eddie’ Edwards who became Britain’s first ski jumper for 60 years in the 1988 Winter Olympics. It features Taron Egerton in the title role and Hugh Jackman as fictional coach Bronson Peary. I went in expecting a comedy but the film treats audiences to so much more with an absolutely heart-warming true story about a man who refused to give up on his dream, no matter how many obstacles he faced. I couldn’t help but smile all the way through this film.

Egerton and Jackman are perfectly cast and it is clear that the two work well together as all their scenes felt very natural, which contributed to the success of the film. Egerton is superb as Edwards, with the actor appearing in almost every scene he certainly does not succumb to the pressure of the role. He realistically portrays the comedy and the drama the film requires. It comes as no surprise that well-established actor Hugh Jackman is convincing as Peary, showing his journey from grumpy recluse to kind-hearted coach. As a viewer you end up affectionately caring for both characters.

If any criticism can be made of the film is that it can be seen as overly-sentimental at times but I believe for most members of the audience this will not stop their enjoyment of the story. The sentimentality certainly appears to be in keeping with the public’s attitude towards the real Eddie Edwards in 1988. Edwards won no medals and entered the Winter Olympics knowing he was not as an accomplished an athlete as the other competitors. Yet he was determined to compete for his country, despite the British Olympic Committee’s underhand tactics to stop him. The film features real footage from the 1988 Winter Olympics which shows us modern audience members just how loved and well-received Edwards was because of his honesty and desire to never give up. 

Edwards at the Winter Olympics in 1988 / Image from ‘SKI Magazine’

I think what makes this biopic so appealing is that we recognise the heroicness in an ordinary man doing everything in his power to live an extraordinary dream (which in 1988 it certainly was). In that moment it inspires us to do more in our own lives. However as this story teaches us, our achievements aren’t measured in how many times we win but in how many times we did our best.

This review was originally published in the online magazine Cuckoo Review in April 2016

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