In the 1950s there was an air race to see which planes can travel the greatest distances in the shortest time. The politics and excitement of that competition is for a different movie. Bride Flight examines the lives of four people who were on a successful flight from Holland to New Zealand. The reason it has its title is that most of the people who qualified for emigration were those that were previously engaged.
Three of the women are brides to be. There is the friendly Esther (Anna Drijver), Marjorie (Elise Schaap) who can’t wait to have a family, and Ada (Karina Smulders, who looks like the Dutch Cynthia Watros) the blond beauty who sits quietly to herself. Frank (Waldemar Torenstra) befriends them all during their long travels and steals several romantic looks towards Ada.
They land successfully and they all split up with their own lives and loves. The new world isn’t exactly what they pictured—more clouds for one thing—but they all find their niche for better or worse. Ada gains the most sympathy since her interactions with Frank were so romantic. Her husband, Derk (Micha Hulshof), is so cartoonishly cold that if had a moustache he would twirl it. (He does rock a beard later on).
The movie moves forward in a brisk pace with everyone’s stories remaining interesting. It peaks halfway through when Esther and Marjorie conspire to keep a major secret. It’s a great twist in the story, but unfortunately stops their momentum for the next hour. They are both stuck repeating the same points until it becomes boring.
All four characters are interesting, but Ada is the only one who excels in every scene. The performance is strong because the character is allowed to be complicated. Where the rest of the film uses religion as a disarming tool, Ada is more genuine even if her faith causes her harm.
Director Ben Sombogaart balances the stories with ease, except for when he jumps to the future to see them all reuniting for a funeral. Starting with seeing a character die seems like it’ll be a good draw into the film, but it is overshadowed by the aspects of the air race. During the plane scenes there is time to learn who the characters are, unlike the future scenes which just show lovely scenery. If the story was linear it would be more emotional for all the characters.
The only other detail distracting the likable movie was the overbearing score. It’s difficult for a simple, wistful theme to cause annoyance, but it never stops playing. It’s almost on autopilot in detecting whether the scene is supposed to be of high drama or not. If there is high drama, then there will be silence, if not that score goes on and on and on. At one point, I thought it took control because it kept getting louder until I couldn’t hear the actors. Thank goodness for subtitles.
With all the minor problems, the film was still a light joy that can gain a strong following with audiences who are looking for less calculated romance in their films. This is currently playing at the Movie Buff Theatre for at least a few more days.