When I was of an age too young to protest, my lovely parents – who recently found out my vision was as about as good as that of a mole – decided to dress me in the type of thick, ‘old man’ glasses that Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards would become synonymous with. For years, well into my teens in fact, I would wear these gigantic, bottle-like glasses and became strangely attached to them. This wasn’t necessarily an issue during my primary school days, but my choice of eyewear definitely lead some of my fellow comprehensive pupils to perceive me in a certain way.
The assumption was that, due to the way I looked, I was obviously a geek who was going to make for a poor excuse of an athlete – an assumption which was proved correct on both accounts. To this day, when I visit home and see school photographs of me with glasses that hide half of my face, it still makes me cringe and instantly takes me back to those younger days, where children really could be cruel based purely on the way you looked.
Perhaps it’s the fact that me and Eddie Edwards shared the same sort of fashion that made me instantly connect with Eddie The Eagle, the hugely cinematic telling of the unlilkley olympian’s life story, that’s brought to us by the producers of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Kick-Ass. My love for the film – and I really do love it – runs a lot deeper than that though, as it tells a truly inspirational and touching story that massively appeals to the underdog in me.
If you’re already familiar with Edwards’ story, you’ll immediately understand what I mean; in the Winter Olympics of 1988, a bespectacled and moustached Eddie Edwards became the first ever British skier to represent his country in Olympic ski jumping. To say he looked out of place amongst the other competitors, would be a huge understatement; but, through his charm and fortitude, he managed to capture the spirit and imaginations of people from all over the world, against all the odds.
I’m not going to go into whether or not he proved successful enough to take home a medal, not just because it would be a massive spoiler to anybody unfamiliar with the story, but because that’s not the point; Eddie The Eagle isn’t a film about winning, but rather a film about forever trying and never giving up your dreams.
That may sound too sickly sweet for your tastes, but the film’s director, Dexter Fletcher, successfully manages to sidestep any kind of over-sentimentality and brings us something that feels a lot more human and relatable. Fletcher manages to follow the rules of other sporting films of its kind – watch out for a reference to Cool Runnings – but manages to make big moments feel equally small and personal. It’s truly uplifting and has a great message at the heart of it, but never feels obvious or preachy.
Aesthetically pleasing, the font, fashion and synth soundtrack transports you to the 80s and makes Eddie The Eagle feel like a film of its own time. The combination of the visuals, the music, and the flawless script from co-writers Sean Macaulay and Simon Keltion, all amount to a film with bags of charm that is virtually impossible not to be sucked into. Genuinely funny, it’s the type of film that will make your face hurt from laughing consistently throughout and smiling like a madman in between.
One of the biggest things that the film has going for it, however, are the two leads at its centre. Taron Egerton takes flight as Eddie Edwards, perfectly capturing the physical quirks of his real life character. His is a performance made all the more impressive due to the fact that, up until this point, we’ve mainly seen the actor take on suave roles in films such as Kingsman and Legend. The fact that he manages to carry off this kind of role so well, easily makes it the most exciting thing we’ve seen from the up-and-coming actor to date.
Acting opposite Egerton is a top form Hugh Jackman, whose coaching character, Bronson Peary, is just one of the many creative liberties that’s been taken in the film – Edwards was actually coached by two people, Chuck Berghorn and John Viscome. This fabrication is a necessary one, however, with Jackman’s boozy, fictional former ski jumper proving a great counterpart to our innocent hero. Together, Jackman and Egerton make a fantastic double act whose chemistry is one of the film’s biggest draws.
Regardless of whether or not you know the outcome, there’s still a lot of fun to be had with Eddie The Eagle. From the cast to the visuals, from the script to the soundtrack, it is a film that just works from the inside and out. My favourtie film of 2016 so far, it’s a joyous celebration of the indomitable human spirit, which I think “The Eagle” should be tremendously proud of.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com