Esther McCarthy reviews Eddie the Eagle and Irish movie, Mammal
Eddie the Eagle
Directed by Dexter Fletcher, this straight-up sports biopic tells the extraordinary story of Eddie Edwards, a wannabe olympian who dreamed of competing, even though he initially had very little natural sporting prowess.
After narrowly missing out on qualification for the Great Britain team as a downhill skier in the 1984 Winter Olympics, Edwards regrouped and made a fascinating discovery.
Finding that qualification rules in the ski-jumping contest were out of date, and that there were no British ski-jumpers to compete against him for a place, Edwards took up the sport. In little over a year, he qualified for the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.
Fletcher’s film never really deviates from the safe trajectory that is the underdog sports story and we’re rarely breaking new ground here.
Yet this movie has much to recommend it. Young British actor Taron Egerton is simply terrific as the skier, embodying all of his nervous quirks without ever making the performance feel manipulative.
Hugh Jackman, meanwhile, is great at being Hugh Jackman as Edwards’ initially reluctant, initially despondent, heavy drinking coach, former skiing great Bronson Peary.
And the great Christopher Walken steals the few scenes he’s in as another ski-jumping genius who became disillusioned with Peary. He reminds us what a great and eccentric screen presence he is, even in a small role.
By turns clichéd and innovative, Eddie the Eagle is the quirkiest of films. But it captures the spirit of competition being open to all, and you'll be cheering for him when he makes that final, big, jump towards redemption.
Mammal (16) ****
Irish filmmaker Rebecca Daly’s second feature is a powerful, slow-burning drama, though its use of imagery feels a bit pointed and overcooked at times.
Still, Daly shows herself to be an actors’ director, getting the very best out of her cast. Australian actress Rachel Griffiths is Margaret, a woman who seems disconnected from the world.
Even when she’s contacted by her ex-husband to tell her her teenage son has gone missing, she’s reluctant to voice a response or even an emotion.
It’s around this time that she discovers Joe (Barry Keoghan) lying in the gutter near her home. Though it seems apparent that she’s a woman struggling with mothering instincts she feels a need to protect him and take him in.
Griffiths is always watchable in an unstated performance but is it Keoghan who is the sensation here. He displays considerable range and depth as the shrewd yet vulnerable Joe and I'm predicting great things for this rising star