Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Running time: 138 minutes
Now Showing this week is Flight, the latest film by Robert Zemeckis and starring Denzel Washington in his Oscar nominated role of airline pilot Whip Whitaker. Flight‘s story revolves around Captain Whitaker after a civilian airline plane he is piloting suddenly begins to fall apart, causing the plane to go into a free-fall nose dive. Through some unconventional maneuvers, Whitaker is able to crash land the plane with minimal casualties and he is heralded as a hero by the survivors and the media. But once it comes to light that not only does Whitaker have a serious alcohol and drugs problem, but he was also intoxicated during the accident; his reputation, career and life starts to dissolve around him….
My first impression upon finishing this film was just pure bewilderment as to why Flight isn’t in the running for Best Picture. Flight is nothing short of compelling, from the intense opening act and right through the legal and personal struggles that follow for its main protagonist. It is a story of heroism, moral ethics and the human weakness of succumbing to our vices; which to me is everything that one looks for in a Best Picture. Flight is a film that I would not be upset to see win such an award, but sadly it somehow did not make the cut. Now I haven’t seen all of the Best Picture nominations (six out of nine is pretty good though!), but I guess Amour must be pretty damn good for it to be considered in both Best Picture and Foreign Film!
One of my favourite aspects of this film was its structuring. Much like a classic mystery story, the film opens with the incident that will affect the events to come: the plane crash. That plane crash sequence was one of the most intense moments of my cinema going life, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time! And what’s more, similar to a mystery story, the film simply presents what happened, without hiding anything. It shows us the entire event, and leaves us with the rest of the film to figure out what can and can’t be used against Whitaker in a court of law. It made several reveals all the more shocking given we had already seen all the evidence at the beginning!
But the true highlight of the film is indeed Denzel Washington’s performance as Whitaker, hence the Oscar nomination. Washington nails the role, finding a balance between being incredibly charming and downright despicable in his alcoholism that leads Whitaker into becoming a very multifaceted character. What’s more, Washington does some of the best drunk acting I have ever seen, and as an actor myself I know how hard that can be. There is a fine line in drunk acting where the tone will change from serious to slapstick and it is a very easy line to cross; but Washington never crosses it once. The way he shows that his brain is still ticking over, but has absolutely no coherence in his speech or body was nothing short of phenomenal. The Oscar nomination is highly deserved, and win would be as well. I must also give credit where credit is due to the rest of the cast. Washington may be the stand out in the film, but the supporting cast were also exemplary. Don Cheadle was fantastic as Whitaker’s attorney, as was John Goodman as his drug dealer; just to name a few.
However, the final thing that I loved about this film was the ethical dilemma it presented to us, the audience. That dilemma being that yes, Whitaker has a serious drinking problem but out of every pilot they tested in the same scenario, he was the only one who managed to land the plane without killing every single person on board. Can you really just throw him to the dogs since you need someone to blame? It certainly was a head-scratcher for me!
See you next time!