Movies locations – Elie and Pittenweem

The Winter Guest was filmed at Elie and Pittenweem.

The town scenes were filmed in Pittenweem, a charming fishing village in the East Neuk of Fife.


The beach scenes were filmed upon the shores of a picturesque Scottish seaside town in the icy depths of winter, around Elie in Fife. Both the lighthouse and the beach next to the car park appear in the movie.

Elie in Fife

Phyllida Law

Phyllida Law

Emma’s mother, Phyllida Ann Law, is a Scottish actress.

She was born in Glasgow on 5th of May 1932. She was married to actor Eric Thompson from 1957 until his death in 1982.

Besides Emma she has a second daughter named Sophie.

She worked for years on TV and she appeared in films alongside her daughter Emma (Much ado about nothing and The winter guest).

Law has been working almost non-stop for more than 60 years.

In 2013 Phyllida Law was awarded honorary doctorates in drama from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) in Glasgow.

She is facing health problems with Parkinson’s disease.

Emma has enlisted Gaia, her daughter, to help her care for her ailing mother during the Covid-19 pandemic, in their house in Argyll, Scotland.

Emma’s duty is serving as primary carer and Gaia was commissioned to cook for the family.

“It’s a bit like living in a cross between a care home and a gastropub,” Emma told Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper. “Mum is quite lame so it’s a case of taking her out in a wheelchair, and making sure she takes her medication. The meds are amazing. We can shield her here quite easily, and she moves more here, too, because she is interested in looking at the trees and the birds. In London, it’s more difficult.”

Some time ago, during an interview, Phyllida Law said: “I’ve got to have my funeral in the afternoon, curtain up 2.30pm, so people can get to the theatre afterwards”.

Emma Thompson and Phyllida Law


The winter guest (1997)

The winter guest marks the debut of Alan Rickman as director.

Emma and her mother, Phyllida Law, star as the recently widowed Frances, a photographer, and her prickly mother, Elspeth, in the mute and chilly Scottish landscape.

The story focuses on the conflictual mother-daughter relationship.

The film opens with an aged woman walking on the way to her daughter’s house; Frances has lost her husband and she has retreated into silence and anger. She refuses to leave the house and her 16-year-old son Alex takes care of both of them.

Her mother’s coming creates an overwhelming situation because Elspeth wants to goad her but Frances doesn’t stand her mother’s complaints and rebukes.

They have a prickly relationship but in the end affection will take over misunderstandings.

The silent and snowy setting highlights the bitter dialogues between mother and daughter but also some moments of tenderness.

Emma and her mother are delightful together but being mother and daughter in real life has definitely helped them. I’d love to see them play together again.

Phyllida and Emma

Emma Thompson and her mother, Phyllida Law, were awarded honorary doctorates in drama from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) in Glasgow in July 2013.

Emma Thompson and Phyllida Law

They have starred in several films together (The winter guest, Much ado about nothing, Peter’s friends) but Emma has said that receiving an honorary degree alongside her mother Phyllida Law is their “best starring role together, definitely”.

Emma Thompson and Phyllida Law