“The film moves through this huge landscape of emotion as well as the land”: Rachel Joyce on The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
From the opening scenes of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, you might be lulled into expecting a tale brimming with nostalgic and lighthearted reflections on seeing contemporary Britain through the eyes of an elderly couple. But audiences will quickly realise they are in a rather different register of story: the emotional journey through the past travelled by Harold Fry and his wife, Maureen, as Fry physically journeys across the land to visit his dying friend, Queenie, takes us to some unexpectedly dark and challenging places. Jim Broadbent and Penelope Wilton fit the characters with perfection, our familiarity with these veteran British actors perhaps further adding to the sense that we know what we’re watching before the rug is pulled from beneath our feet. The English landscape is stunningly captured, as are the nuanced sentiments of these characters, whose story, while heart-wrenching, is ultimately an uplifting one, highlighting the importance of human connection.
The Upcoming had the pleasure of speaking with Rachel Joyce, the author of the book the feature is based on, who also penned the screenplay for the film, ahead of it landing on the big screen. Joyce spoke about the story’s evolution, starting as a radio play and ultimately becoming a novel, and now a film, and shared her excitement in having Wilton and Broadbent bring her characters to life, highlighting their ability to capture the emotional depth of the story. She also delved into the themes, focusing on the importance of understanding and connecting with others, as well as exploring grief and the human tendency to make assumptions about one another. She hopes viewers will take away the message that it’s never too late to reach out and form bonds, reflecting on their own lives and the lives of others in the process. As for her future projects, Joyce hinted at the possibility of a musical and confirms she’s always working on a new book.
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is released nationwide on 28th April 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry here: