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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Great Moments In Aviation (1994)

In 1957, a young woman (Rakie Ayola) leaves her Caribbean home to travel to England by ocean liner. On the ship, she becomes involved with a mysterious man (Jonathan Pryce) who is pursued by a man (John Hurt) who insists that his wife was murdered by this secretive stranger. This was an orphan film. It premiered at the 1994 Cannes film festival but never found a distributor and was sold to British television the following year. Eventually released in America in 1997 (with a different ending) under the title SHADES OF FEAR. Directed by Beeban Kidron (TO WONG FOO THANKS FOR EVERYTHING, JULIE NEWMAR), one can see what Kidron and her screenwriter (Jeanette Winterson) were going for but it never quite jells. Kidron needed a lighter touch for the fragile material but gives it a heavy hand so that it never takes flight. There are some good things about it, Ayola gives a charming performance but the two most interesting characters are the latent lesbians played by Vanessa Redgrave and Dorothy Tutin. The subtly effective underscore is by Rachel Portman and the art direction and production team display an accurate picture of the 1950s. The deck scenes were obviously shot on a sound stage but it actually gives the film a rather needed bit of magic.

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