Aloft (Sony Pictures Classics, R)

aloft 75My overall disinterest was at a level that seemed too much trouble to form any sort of opinions about the film at all, good or bad.

 

 

 

aloft 500The new Claudia Llosa film Aloft concerns a mother and renowned healer Nana Kunning (Jennifer Connelly) meeting up with her estranged son Ivan (Cillian Murphy) for the first time in 20 years. The bond between the two was broken after an accident from Ivan’s childhood. Or, that’s what the film concerns, according to its press notes—I had to look it up. I write this review some two weeks after having seen the film, and I’ve already all but forgotten it. In fact, I had fairly literally all but forgotten it as I was walking from the theater to my car after the press screening.

Some of this is by design, as it’s an intentionally ethereal film, as witnessed in Nicholas Bolduc’s cinematography, which is often beautiful but just as frequently confusing. When the film begins, Ivan is a little boy (played by Zen McGrath), and obsessed with falcons. At this stage, the film shows some similarities to the 2006 Sundance Film Festival misfire The Hawk is Dying, but it soon leaps forward twenty years and gets out of that rut and into a different one. Aloft is never plot-oriented enough to make you get terribly involved in the story, but at the same time it doesn’t ever engage you directly in any other way, either: not aesthetically, not emotionally, not with its characters, not formally.

A big draw to the film is its cast, which, apart from being strong, is made up mostly of very good actors who we just don’t seem to see often enough. I’ll never understand why Jennifer Connelly doesn’t get more and higher-profile roles than she does, and you could say the same about Cillian Murphy. Elsewhere we have Mélanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds, Beginners) as the woman who brings the older Nana and Ivan back together, and Oona Chaplin (Charlie’s granddaughter, and also Robb Stark’s wife from Game of Thrones) pops up in a small role. It’s nice to see these too-rare faces, and while their performances are fine, none of it is enough to make you care, either.

In the end, it’s hard to know who Aloft is made for, and what kind of person would like it. While I certainly didn’t hate it, it’s also been a long time since I’ve seen a movie that I have felt so neutral about. My overall disinterest was at a level that seemed too much trouble to form any sort of opinions about the film at all, good or bad. | Pete Timmermann

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