Directed By Hettie
In Cinemas from June
Reviewed by Len Power
2 June 2023
A film about an ordinary elderly couple that starts quietly
and then develops into a highly involving and gut-wrenching story, ‘The
Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry’ is unforgettable.
Jim Broadbent plays a man who has done very little in life and when a fatally ill old friend writes to him from a northerly hospice, where she is an inmate, he confounds his wife by suddenly setting out on a walking pilgrimage from Kingsbridge,Devon to Berwick-on-Tweed, a distance of over five hundred miles.
Reminiscent of movies like ‘The Lawnmower Man’ and ‘A Trip To Bountiful’, the reason that drives this man to undertake this journey on foot becomes clear as the movie progresses. The question, ‘Why doesn’t he just take the train?’ slips quietly away as we realize his long walk is as much a penance as a pilgrimage.
The various people he meets along the way, most of whom show him great kindness, cause him to reflect on past episodes in his life. Before long, we are equally engaged with him and hopeful that he will make it to the hospice in time.
As his initially puzzled and frustrated wife, Penelope Wilton is also highly effective in her performance of a woman keeping a tight rein on her emotions and eventually arriving at an understanding of her husband’s actions.
The photography by Kate McCullogh is striking and there is firm direction by Hettie Macdonald. The various characters met during the journey are all vividly portrayed.
This is a fine movie that will stay with you for some time to come.