As Pierre de Coubertin (famous Olympic commentator) put it, "the important thing in life is not triumph, but the struggle..." The film Eddie the Eagle highlights maybe the most triumphant struggle in the history of the Winter Olympics. Michael "Eddie" Edwards always dreamt of representing his country as an Olympian, so he set his sights high on becoming Great Britain's first ski jumper in over 50 years. Struggling to compete both physically and financially, Eddie "The Eagle" never gave up on his dream, which truly gives the audience a belief that anything is possible in this absolutely inspiring underdog feature. Alongside the powerful performances and remarkable cinematography, Eddie the Eagle is wonderfully relatable for all ages. In the words, it's the must see biopic of the year!
The movie opens up to Eddie as a child leaving his home eager to sign up for the Olympics. This establishes his mother's endearing support of his determination, his father's realistic opposition to the aspiration, and Eddie's relentless goal of becoming an olympian. As he grows up, he never loses the passion of competing in the world games, leading him to discover a downhill ski facility near his home. With limited competition, he decides to put his efforts toward making the ski squad for the Winter Olympics. As he barely misses the cut, Eddie does a little research and realizes he could represent Britain as the nation's sole ski jumper instead. In light of this, he packs his bags and heads to Germany to train where he meets the hard-hitting (and relatively drunken) Bronson Peary. With a lot of convincing, Eddie gets Peary to train him for the 1988 Calgary Olympics, and the rest is history.
The chemistry between Taron Egerton as Eddie and Hugh Jackman as Peary is invigorating! Where Eddie is a straight laced, no nonsense dark horse, Bronson Peary is a naturally talented, self-sabotaging degenerate. Egerton is extremely nuanced in the role with his unwavering slow-to-the-joke attitude, and subtle physical attributes including an unnoticeable but constant underbite. Where as Jackman puts up his most earnest performance to date (aside from actually being Wolverine) with intense, yet understated, emotional transitions that exhibit Bronson Peary as the heart behind the heart of the film.
Both of these performers appeared to have a deep understanding of their roles to the extent of almost forgetting that you are just watching a movie. Other notable performances would include Eddie's parents, played by Keith Allen and the wonderfully likable Jo Hartley. A brief but pivotal role by Edvin Endre as the world class ski jumper Matti Nykänen. And then barely sneaking in at the end of the film was the always captivating, Christopher Walken, as former ski coach Warren Sharp. Honestly, everyone did a good job in the film, but the leads certainly standout with career topping performances.
Being fairly new to the scene of directing, Dexter Fletcher did an impressive job putting together this highly motivation film. With the help of producer (and Hollywood favorite) Matthew Vaughn and cinematographer George Richmond, the scenes were shot beautifully and daringly. From capturing subtle reactions all the way to soaring through the air with Eddie, the filmmaking sometimes leaves the audience in awe. In this sense, it defied the standard of a biopic which is otherwise limited by budget restraints or source material. Also, the film itself had a distinct '80's vibe, with a clever use of music and a faint soft focus glow to certain shots. Eddie the Eagle was not only an enjoyably uplifting tale, but a visual marvel.
As most films inspired by true stories, there were a few things in the script that took some artistic license. Actually, Michael Edwards himself said in an interview that the film may only be about "10% accurate," but the heart of the story remains. Some of the interactions and characters, such as his coach Bronson Peary himself were created for the project. Certain achievements of Eddie "The Eagle" were also completely left out to highlight his struggle of reaching the final goal. However, the height of the film is based on fact, and so is the celebration of his "heroic failure." There was also a fun shout out to the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team (made famous by the '93 classic Cool Runnings). Most importantly, the cast and crew decided "to go all in" on this feature and it paid off tremendously. Having been in and out of production for over 10 years, Eddie the Eagle finally made it to the big screen and it was an absolute pleasure.
Rating - 8/10