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  • Gareth Crook

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (2023) - 7/10

Harold Fry (Jim Broadbent) is getting on in life. He doesn’t feel it though, drifting through it as he has. Until one day he receives an unexpected letter. Setting off to the postbox with his reply, Harold finds himself reluctant to take the easy option, a choice that rewards him with a series of life lessons that will warm your heart… or roll your eyes depending on your level of cynicism. It’s called The Unlikely Pilgrimage of… and it certainly is. Harold setting out to walk from his home in Devon to see his dying friend Queenie (Linda Bassett), who lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Bonkers right? His wife Maureen (Penelope Wilton) certainly thinks so. He’s not exactly prepared and there’s no plan, but he learns as he goes. As do we. It’s got an air of fantasy, but remains oddly anchored through his somewhat predicable rather British adventures, although it does valiantly attempt to throw the odd curveball. Essentially it’s one big visual metaphor as we learn that Harold hasn’t always been in touch with his feelings or those of others, but for all its blunt plot points, it is quaintly inspirational. It’s nicely shot too and achieves the feeling of Harold’s journey across the country, showing England off in a rather beautiful light. Broadbent is brilliant. Simple delivery, understated, that warmth in his face filling the screen. The supporting cast too, from a brief cameo with Claire Rushbrook, all too brief glimpses of Earl Cave as Harold’s remembered son and his somewhat adopted one Daniel Frogson, who as Wilf is the first of many to tag along. It’s as much about Harold though, as it is about Maureen left at home. Their relationship, what it’s been missing. What they need as people, maybe what we all need. Despite all this loftiness, it’s not a great film, but regardless I really enjoyed it. Understanding what drives Harold, there’s more to this than what’s put on the screen.



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