Though I can’t explain exactly what “Heart” is, I feel films with Heart have been in short supply, lately.
Which is why Eddie the Eagle deserves to be seen, not because it’s a groundbreaking achievement, but because it’s a heartfelt film, with lovable characters.
The only major fault that I can think of is that it’s an inspirational film by the numbers. Everyone shits on Eddie’s dreams despite him proving him or her wrong, time and time again. But I don’t think this detracts from the film because there’s no tension, without contention when it comes to underdog stories. It has to be an uphill battle; otherwise no one would care to watch it. Besides, the lovable characters drive the film…
Characters like Eddie: He’s overconfident when he has no reason to be. For instance: He decides to become a ski jumper virtually overnight, and after succeeding once at the fifteen meter jump, he hastily moves on to the 40 meter. He’s a ballsy, tenacious loser. He looks the part as well; Taron Edgerton sports an odd under bite throughout the movie, though thankfully he never veers into Napoleon Dynamite territory.
Eddy’s goal is also removed of ego, because he doesn’t desire to best those around him, he only wants to share in their glory and be called an Olympian. His only adversary is the man he was the day before. The movie follows his constant uphill battle to make the grade, and while there are no surprises to those who know their history, the film still delivered tension with each jump. I was invested in him, not because I give a damn about sports, but because Edgerton always felt human enough to fuck it up.
His coach is Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman). An ex-olympian for the American ski jump team that thought he was bigger than the mountain and fell from glory. The moment he’s introduced there’s whispers of ‘Merica: he steps down from his snow blower as though it were a trucking rig, cowboy boots crushing the snow beneath his feet—He even has a star spangled flask to complete his patriotic ensemble. Again, the film almost veers into spoof with his introduction, but he’s redeemed because he too, is a lovable loser. Bronson guides Eddie on his path to glory and warns him of the dangers of ego.
The aesthetics of the film furthers the loser motif. Most of them look like neon dorks. Jackman is the exception to the rule, but as aforementioned, he looks like America man. I understand that this was the style of the time, but the directors didn’t have to place it in the foreground of the film. If you look at a Martin Scorsese film, no matter the period, the characters that are meant to be cool, look cool. It’s a conscious choice by the director, and I appreciate it. Another small detail that immersed me the late eighties vibe of the film was the choice to have an electro synth score.
All the little details—the synth score, the non-stop neon windbreakers, Taron’s underbite, and Jackman’s Patriotic garb—could have driven the film over the line into an unintentional spoof, but because there’s actual character in Eddie the Eagle, all of it adds to the charm. To me, the heart of the film, is, well… heart.