Flying Blind (Katarzyna Klimkiewicz, 2013)

Year of writing: 2013. It’s been well over a decade since the Towers collapsed, and Flying Blind is still trying to grapple, in a relatively simplistic way, with the complex issues of trenchant post-9/11 paranoia and fundamentalist presences in the liberal West. The film does not patronise, and does not quite offer ‘easy answers’, but it does cast the West-East relationship in a relatively facile sexual framework.

A strange ethnic tangle of limbs.
A strange ethnic tangle of limbs.

What exactly this framework is trying to achieve is hard to figure out: the film does not seem sure of what it is trying to do. It features an excellent Helen McCrory as an aeronautics expert who grows increasingly attracted to a handsome, laconic Algerian named Kahil, played with requisite mysteriousness by Najib Oudhgiri. Naturally, this latter character has some perturbing secrets to hide; it might be said, without revealing too much of the plot, that he embodies the worst fears of the conservative west. Unfortunately, Kahil is defined almost wholly by his ethnic identity; he seems like a cipher for the ideological complexities surrounding perceptions of the Arab world, and rarely do we get a glimpse of his character beyond his Algerian-ness.

Frankie (McCrory’s character), however, seems a little more complex. She seems to find him alluring because of his opacity rather than his ethnicity, and continues her romance with him despite being aware of the perils, not because she is drawn to the danger.

The film is not unsubtle, and has its fair share of nuances; the script is decent, the eroticism well-handled, and the direction competent, if not particularly noteworthy. However, Flying Blind might have benefited from a greater wealth of fleshed-out secondary characters, to lend it a little more complexity. Its sexual and formal frameworks are a little too dry and conventional to make this a real must-see.

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