Cambridge Film Festival 2012: Flying Blind

Nice as it is to see a properly UK made and funded film showing at the Cambridge Film Festival it’s a bit disappointing that Katarzyna Klimkiewicz’s drama Flying Blind, about an ambitious aerospace engineer who gets romantically entangled with an Algerian student who may not be telling the full truth about who he is, feels as much as it does like TV comfort food – the sort of thing you’d have no problem blobbing in front of at 9pm on a Monday night, but hardly a radical or even particular interesting exploration of the possibilities of cinema. Helen McCrory takes the lead role as the confident, smug even, Frankie, who despite being a brilliant scientist and researcher still doesn’t know her lover’s surname after three weeks of being together (you’d have thought that even if the subject hadn’t come up in conversation by then that she’s a resourceful and curious enough woman to have done some minor snooping at the university she teaches at), with Najib Oudghiri playing the smouldering and enigmatic Kahil, who seems to be as on top of Arabic poetry and irresistible chat-up lines as he as on computational fluid dynamics. Both actors are fine, though neither character is at all likeable and both are seen to behave in ways that belie their supposed intelligence. The biggest problem with the film is that from the moment we find out about Kahil’s habit of fielding telephone calls in a language Frankie doesn’t understand the viewer becomes painfully aware that there’s a really obvious direction a story with the basic ingredients of woman-with-access-to-top-secret-military-aeroplane-projects and dusky-skinned-man-of-dubious-provenance can go, with the result that you spend the rest of the running time hoping beyond hope that the plot’s going to go somewhere more interesting. It doesn’t, but at least it also doesn’t devolve into a dumb action runaround involving countdowns and stand-offs either. As another bonus it’s all very nicely filmed, using real locations in and around Bristol to good effect, and there’s a lovely supporting role for Kenneth Cranham as Frankie’s nice old dad. Overall: unremarkable.

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