January 27, 2020  (Web Review)


Music Box, 102 min., not rated, DVD: $29.95, Dec. 3

Reviewer rating: 2.5/4

In Simon Hunter’s uneven comedy-drama, a recently widowed octogenarian decides to climb a mountain in the Scottish Highlands. Sheila Hancock sparkles as Edie, whose businesslike daughter intends to move her mother into a retirement home without delay, but is taken aback when she learns that her mother not only harbored resentment against her father for years, but is now determined to scale Mount Suilven—an adventure Edie had once planned with her own beloved father, until her imperious husband vetoed the idea. So off Edie goes, only to literally bump into a young couple—Jonny (Kevin Guthrie) and Fiona (Amy Manson)—at the train station near the mountain. Jonny befriends the elderly woman, letting her stay in his apartment when her hotel reservation is lost, and outfitting her with the gear she needs from his sporting-goods store. What follows is pretty predictable: Edie and Jonny develop a bond as he takes her out for some training in preparation for her hike and then insists on helping her when bad weather sets in during her climb—much to Fiona’s displeasure. What keeps Edie from descending into pure schmaltz is Hancock, who conveys her character’s flinty will as well as her physical frailty. A strong optional purchase. (F. Swietek)