British cinema is knowing how to take advantage of the so-called autumn cinemawhich allows us to offer not only proposals halfway between the commercial and the authorial, but also offer the brilliance of veteran actors who show that the elderly are not only protagonists of their own stories, but that these deserve to be told with the same importance. With the classic feel-good touch, ‘Harold’s Journey’ is now in theaters, which allows you to see Jim Broadbent in a state of grace.
‘Harold’s Journey’ begins with a typical mundane day of Harold Fry, a retiree who receives a letter from an old co-worker telling him that she has terminal cancer, who has already entered palliative care and that he has little left to die. Despite the fact that she thought, initially, to write him a letter and settle the issue; choose to walk to the hospital after having a revealing conversation with a gas station attendant. The problem is that he lives in Kingsbridge and his friend in Berwick-upon-Tweed, which is over 400 miles apart.
Going from one end of the country to another is not something strange in feel-good dramas. It’s more, the premise is too reminiscent of ‘The Englishman who took the suitcase and went to the end of the world’in which Timothy Spall traveled from the north to the south of the United Kingdom, taking advantage of the fact that he has a free bus pass, to be able to visit the hometown of his recently deceased wife and thus spread her ashes.
Too commercial feel-good tape
On this occasion, the reason for the trip is to avoid the death of a friend, as Werner Herzog did in 1974, who in an act of faith to prevent the death of her mentor Lotte Eisner, walked from Munich to Paris, through the Black Forest. However, what could have been an existentialist reflection ends up being a predictable ghost story from the past that is too reminiscent of the aforementioned Gillies MacKinnon film.
And it is that the ghost of the past and the authentic reasons for the friendship between Harold and his friend take time to reveal themselves and their trip through the country is too fabulous. It’s more, It has moments in which it borders dangerously on the moralistic whiff of evangelical religious-themed films of American origin. And it is that its director Hettie Macdonald, who adapts the novel ‘The unusual pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce, who also signs the script for this adaptation, misses situations and characters, especially that of the protagonist’s wife, played by Penelope Wilton .
Yes, Jim Broadbent is in a state of grace, but in a movie that could have offered so much more. Because, the final result is far from being typical of the director of ‘Beautiful Thing’, one of the first luminous films about LGBT adolescence and historical title. On this occasion, we are facing an unbalanced production, which yields more to its commercial part and whose final result is not bad, but it could have offered something more.
The best: The performances of Jim Broadbent and Penelope Wilton.
Worst: It sins a lot of being too feel-good and its premise borders on the dangerous of American Christian cinema.