Digital Reporter Kristy Stott reviews Flying Blind…
There have been a multitude of films and TV dramas exploring islamic fundamentalism. Flying Blind has this current and evocative theme at its core and so will definitely plug into fans of the genre. Could it be any coincidence that Helen McCrory, who plays the lead role of Frankie in the film is, in real life, married to Damian Lewis who stars in the US television drama Homeland. Both Flying Blind and Homeland deal with living in the shadow of the 9/11 aftermath. However, Flying Blind uses a different formula to many screen projects which have gone before, depicting a personal view rather than a public view in exploring the theme of love across two very different cultures.
Set in Bristol, Flying Blind is a political thriller and the first feature length film by Polish director, Katarzyna Klimkiewicz. Helen McCrory plays Frankie, a forty something determined and ambitious career woman. She works as an aeronautical scientist, designing drones for the Ministry of Defence and also lectures at a university, which is where she meets Kahil, played by Najib Oudghirir, for the first time. Kahil is in his twenties, an attractive young French-Algerian, the film hints that he is a ‘would-be’ student or a ‘could-be’ taxi driver.
Fuelled by her own loneliness and the sexual temptation of Kahil’s exotic world, Frankie undergoes a transformation during the film; Helen McCrory’s portrayal of the role is striking – managing to depict a steely faced business woman at the top of the film and then behaving like a love struck teenager by the end. She manages to deliver a compelling performance balancing emotion and intellect credibly.
The film highlights the effects of Islamaphobia by encouraging us to question our own ignorance and our personal belief system. Flying Blind manages to interlink pride, prejudice and a sense of paranoia by using an intimate love story to reflect the wider context of unsettlement created in our society by the war on terror and the reactionary media.
Flying Blind raises issues of culture, language barriers and the politics of a unfamiliar world; Frankie finds out very soon that her relationship with Kahil is not just about romantic Arabic poetry and shisha’s. The couple embark on an intense and passionate relationship, however, with much of Kahil’s life remaining a mystery to Frankie, we question his true motivations and with a successful career at stake, will Frankie fully trust in Kahil and can she be absolutely certain that his intentions are genuine?