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IN SHORT: Surprisingly sweet. [Rated ]
Any of you that have seen a trailer or commercial for Theory of Flight, in which Helena Bonham Carter is confined to a wheelchair, ravaged by ALS, are no doubt totally turned off to the notion of shlepping down to the local cineplex to see it. Cranky admits that he dreaded the notion as well, but it's my job so off I went.
This being December, when man against disease movies are issued with all the regularity of unsolicited phone calls asking you to change your long distance service, Cranky is pleased to report that Theory of Flight is not another "watch me die and give me a statue flick." All the medical stuff is mercifully tucked into the background and a very true to life story plays out on top of it.
"Hideously crippled young woman seeks sex..." is the title of the Personal ad that Jane (Carter) almost posts on an Internet personals board. Jane is 25, confined to a wheelchair due to Lou Gehrig's disease. She's a spit take away from needing a computer to do her talking for her and knows she is going to die. Remarkably, she manages to maintain a sharp sense of humor about her condition. Her only goal is to experience the one "normal" thing she has been denied. She wants at least one night of romantic lovemaking, preferably with Richard Gere, but any good looking stud will do.
That stud is not Richard (played by Carter's real life stud, Kenneth Branagh), a nuisance to society who tries to build flying machines out of junk and is sentenced to be Jane's "caretaker" by the local constabulary. We call it "community service" and Cranky isn't quite sure how the Brits handle it, as Jane has already got a nurse looking after the medical end. Think of the situation as a forced friendship and it all plays out more easily.
If Richard were to jump into bed with Jane to fulfill her dreams, which he won't, this flick would have been dead on delivery. That these two characters build enough of a friendship that Richard is willing to spend his last Pound Sterling to help Jane find her dream turns Theory of Flight into a touching romantic tale. Teenboys'll stick two fingers down their throats but, before you do, Cranky wants to tell you a story.
ALS and paralysis are not in the same league, but when Cranky went through the latter a decade back, all his friends immediately locked on to the most important question of all: "Are you broken so bad that you can't have sex?" Put yourself in that situation and you'd be asking yourself the same question. We are all animals at the root, and this story nails the most basic of instincts as the element that propels a story of friendship. Both performances, by Branagh and Bonham Carter are real, and really good. Cranky's gut feeling is that had there been time for the screenwriter to do another pass, this movie would have been killer. As it is, it is very recommended by this very surprised reviewer.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Theory of Flight,he would have paid...
Ignore the initial repulsion and take a date. Failing that, at least cuddle up and rent. This is a very sweet flick.
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