Flying Lessons (Derek Magyar, 2010): USA

Reviewed by Lea Encarnacion. Viewed at the Arlington Theatre at Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2010.

Flying Lessons by Derek Magyar is a film about a young woman, played by Maggie Grace, who comes back home from Los Angeles to reunite with her mother and childhood friends. In the opening shot, we see a girl in a nightclub in LA stumble out into the sunshine away from the never ending party scene.  She goes back home to her mother’s house – these scenes are intercut with scenes from a retired police officer in that same town.

The two stories and worlds join together in the middle of the film when the girl takes care of the police officer who has Alzheimer’s disease.  Along the way of the story, she gets back in touch with her old friends and former boyfriend.  The love story between her and her former boyfriend is a very cliche and cold/unemotional part of the film.  The shot at the end of the film was nice, when the girl looks back out in the open indicating the possibilities for her future.  The title “Flying Lessons” is a metaphor for living life.  Before the end credits roll, Hal Holbrook’s deep soulful voice reiterates, “How is a man supposed to fly? When he’s got anger on his side… How will he live for tomorrow?”

I thought it was going to be a good film because of all the excitement and people attending as well as the first few minutes of the film.  There were a few good parts but it had a very slow pace that felt draining and dragging the audience on.  I felt like I was always waiting for something to happen, but it never came.  It also felt longer than it really was and was a a sad and depressing dramatic movie.  Hal Holbrook was the only good actor but his talent was not enough to save this unsatisfying film.  It could have been a lot better.  All in all, I would not recommend Flying Lessons to others to see.  It unsuccessfully pushes the point of the story to the audience, although the audience does not feel it in the end.

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