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Rent The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (2023)

3.3 of 5 from 163 ratings
1h 43min
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Recently retired, Harold Fry is well into his 60s and content to fade quietly into the background of life. Harold's life with his wife Maureen is uneventful and their marriage frozen, due to an unspeakable conflict relating to the absence of their son, until one day, Harold learns his old friend Queenie is dying. He sets off to the post office to send her a letter and decides to keep walking: all the way to her hospice, 450 miles away.
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Juliet Dowling, Kevin Loader, Marilyn Milgrom
Rachel Joyce
eOne Entertainment
Action & Adventure, Drama
Release Date:
Run Time:
103 minutes
English Audio Description, English Dolby Digital 2.0, English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Hard of Hearing
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.85:1
  • Making of Featurette
  • Interview with Jim Broadbent
  • Interview with Penelope Wilton

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Reviews (6) of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Journey of self-discovery with lots of heart but too much sentiment - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry review by PD

Spoiler Alert

Adapted from the bestselling novel by Rachel Joyce, this one's deliberately aimed at a senior audience and involves solid performances from Jim Broadbent and Penelope Wilton, who just about save the day from what is ultimately a pretty predictable and terribly sentimental piece. Broadbent's Harold sets off — to his wife’s consternation — in his hopelessly inadequate deck shoes on a secular-but-spiritual mission from Devon to Berwick-Upon-Tweed in order to keep Queenie Hennessey, a former colleague dying in a hospice, alive. Inevitably, the people he encounters along the way irrevocably change him, from a (rather too good be be true) Slovakian cleaner who bandages his bleeding feet, to an idealistic teenage boy who reminds him of his estranged son, whilst wife Maureen, played by Wilton, is angry and bereft, eclipsed by his sudden devotion to Queenie. It involves a curiously weak, unsubtle script which simply isn't up to displaying the depths of any character, favouring as it does far too much in-your-face exposure which borders on the banal at times, and whilst cinematographer Kate McCullough does her best to keep things grounded, pursuing Harold along motorways as well as rolling hills, and injecting his traumatic memories of his son with a nightmarish quality thanks to stark spotlights illuminating these flashbacks, the few snatches of genuine pathos are few and far between (as often, a truly cloying score doesn't help matters). Lots of heart, but its attempt at dealing with weighty issues such as grief and guilt falls rather flat, I'm afraid.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Very slushy & sentimental road movie on foot, like First and Last (1989 TV drama), for women viewers - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry review by PV

Spoiler Alert

This started as a BBC Radio 2 radio drama by Rachel Joyce, a long-time radio drama writer. Her agent encouraged her to turn it into a novel, which she did - and it became a best-seller, mostly amongst female readers, I suspect.

Like many radio dramas, it ticks a lot of boxes, creating unlikely characters to mirror others etc. The usual parachuted in BAME characters in what are almost all-white parts of England too (probably not in the novel). The usual manblaming - no spoilers.

However, what most people will not realise is how unoriginal this is. First and Last, a 1989 TV drama starring Joss Ackland, is the same idea - a man sets off on foot to walk the length of England, meeting quirky characters along the way. No cancer theme in that, true, but basically the same. I wish TV would repeat it as it was as both sad and funny, but NOT slushy and overly sentimental as this film is.

I particularly disliked the spiritual/mystical/faith element though some may like that. I found many characters unbelievable. No spoilers but just to say a qualified doctor is well able to work as a doctor in the UK NHS, direct or for agencies, with adequate English... I did not believe in many of the characters, though the two main actors do their best with a script dripping with lardy schmaltz.

The first half works best, the second half irritates and I just could not believe any of it. SO 3 stars for the first half; 2 stars for the second, 2.5 overall rounded up.

Just to add, THIS is a description of FIRST AND LAST (1989 TV drama): "Rather than relax in retirement, British senior citizen Alan Holly (Joss Ackland) embarks on a journey in which he will walk the entire length of England, from Land's End in southwestern Cornwall to John o'Groats in northern Scotland. While his wife, Audrey (Pat Heywood), finds his undertaking bewildering, she supports him nonetheless. As Alan makes his way from south to north, he meets a wide range of English people and has many moments of quiet reflection."

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Wonderful - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry review by sb

Spoiler Alert

FILM & REVIEW Wonderful life affirming film has Broadbent as Harold living in quiet retirement with his wife Maureen (Wilton). One day he receives a letter from an old work colleague Queenie who is now in a hospice and dying of cancer. He writes back and walks to the postbox but it doesn’t feel right. He has a conversation with a girl in a local garage and he decides then and there to walk to the hospice - over 500 miles away convincing himself that as long as he keeps walking Queenie will live. And so he sets off….rings Maureen to tell her but as the marriage has long been over she initially washes her hands of the whole thing. He meets various people along with he way and just by being himself improves their lives and it’s not long before word has spread though social and mainstream media of his adventure. He is joined by first one disciple then a whole crowd all wearing t-shirts named Pilgrim. He is not best pleased with this and sneaks off to continue the journey on his own. Along the way it’s revealed why the marriage failed with a singular tragic event that blights both their lives. It soon becomes apparent that Harold is not so much walking to save Queenie as much as a quest of self redemption to atone for past sins. If this all sounds a bit heavy going it’s not -Broadbent brings a light droll touch to proceedings amply matched by Wilton and this keeps the film on the right side of sentimentality. Occasionally the religious sub text can seem to be overdone but again the film avoids that trap and you end with a really touching moving story…..highly recommended 4/5

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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