Raph al Guul
It’s been a while. It’s been a while since my last contribution to this rather irregular series of random movie-related recommendations. It’s been a while since Denzel Washington was nominated for an Academy Award. It’s been a while since Robert Zemeckis directed a live-action feature film. And I guess it’s been a while since the movie came out which changed all of that. Surely you figured out that I am talking about Flight, a fairly low-budget (for a Zemeckis film, at any rate) character drama from last year – a movie which, as you might remember, was nominated for two Academy Awards.
In tone and topic, this is a very serious film that studies its characters, most prominently an airplane pilot portrayed by Washington who performs brilliantly, worthy of his nomination. The first 30 minutes of Flight might be slightly misleading, or – to be more precise – distracting concerning its main subject. Ultimately, however, it is the exciting nature of the scenes that take place in the beginning, not narrative deception, that might deflect from the fact that this movie is tackling big issues. In every breath Flight raises the question of whether or not we are in control of the events in our lives – and highlights the problematic implications and consequences, no matter the answer.
Personally, I found that the movie handles its subject matter very competently, with the exception of a few references to Christianity, where it portrays the religion’s representatives as over-the-top fanatics. While people like those characters might indeed exist, it seems like a caricaturized, undifferentiated representation, which – in the light of the movie’s seriousness – detracts from its credibility. Similarly, John Goodman’s character, responsible for a few glimpses of comic relief throughout Flight, does not seem to do justice to the gravity of the issue at hand. To his credit, the movie would probably not be endurable if it weren’t for these more comical appearances.
Flight deserves particular praise for its sound design, as well as the special effects during the aforementioned early scenes. If you remember the intensity of Tom Hanks being swept out of an airplane bathroom in Cast Away, you might have an idea of how Zemeckis & Co are approaching the eponymous flight scene in this film. The sound holds up during the less spectacular scenes, too, and the music, while not to my personal taste, adds to a very carefully crafted soundscape throughout.
All in all, I would recommend Flight to those who are looking for digestible, but quite heavy-hearted drama that’s driven by characters who come to life thanks to an exceptionally proficient cast (along with the aforementioned actors Washington and Goodman, we also see Kelly Reilly, Bruce Greenwood, and Don Cheadle in major roles). It is a serious film, so do not expect a guilty pleasure flick – Back to the Future was way back in Zemeckis’ past, if you’ll allow my crude play on words. If you still need to be convinced: let the movie speak for itself. Watch the first half hour and see if you don’t want to know what Whip Whitaker’s fate will be.