Tuesday, April 12, 2011

DIFF Review THE RUNWAY - He Said

Directed by: Ian Power
Written by: Ian Power
Starring: Jamie Kierans, Kerry Condon, Demian Bichir, and James Cosmo

As I stated in my PARKED review, I have to go to Ireland.  Whether it's the accents, the country side or just the peaceful feeling I get when I watch movies from there, but I have to make this happen.  THE RUNWAY presents a different side of Ireland; the small towns in the country side.  It is the story of a Colombian pilot, Ernesto (Bichir), who crash lands into a small Irish town in the early 1980's.  There is a little boy, Paco, who believes his absent father is Spanish and learns beginner Spanish in case they ever meet. When Ernesto arrives, Paco takes to be Ernesto's rather unreliable translator because Paco lied about his skills and maybe to feel close to a father figure.  This is downright one of the sweetest and most enjoyable movies this side of BEING ELMO at this year's DIFF.

The movie had a chance to be boring and droll, if you think about it; the set up and story arcs are very similar to other movies. You have a mysterious stranger with a possibly shady past  that charms a whole town full of zany characters out of its lull. You have a single mother trying to do her best to raise her child, who's an adorably self-aware kid.  I think I just described CHOCOLAT there. You see what I mean. The saving grace of the movie is the goofy relationships that develop in this movie and the humor. It's very simple and quirky and just makes you feel good by the time you end.

The movie starts of with Paco and his best friend Frogs, a "traveler" which, from what I've gathered from PARKED and this movie, are people in Ireland that just drive around in trailers and settle along the road instead of living in houses.  You see the way that the town is set up you have an older engineer that becomes a drunk out of boredom.  There are bullies that pick on Paco and Frogs, and school is boring.  Paco's mother, Grace, is absent due to her job, but she means well and wants what's best for Paco, which is why she avoids the subject of his father.  The big bulk of the story concerns the town trying to rebuild Ernesto's plane, and then building a runway in which to take off from.  What's really great is that this was based on real events from the 1980's.

The funniest moments come from when Paco wanting to translate what Ernesto is trying to say and completely butchers it.  Initially, Ernesto tells about his tragic past and his need for a phone to get help from Colombia.  And Paco, for very obvious reasons, makes him out to be a hero that just wants to get medicine for his ailing village. It's actually pretty endearing how complex the relationship between Ernesto and Paco becomes. First, a necessary one and then one of choice with Ernesto thinking for the longest time that Paco understands him, and Paco just picking up bits and pieces of his Spanish.  It is very confusing at times exactly how much Spanish he actually knows.  During certain times of the movie he doesn't seem to know much, but then he seems to understand Ernesto really really well. 

There is also a very underwhelming love story involving Ernesto and Grace, which is one of the weaker points of the movie.  To put it in comparison, the section of LOVE ACTUALLY with Colin Firth probably has more believability than this movie.  The movie also has a tendency of having no sense of time.  For all I know, the movie took a year to happen or a week, and the only reason I bring up this as a complaint is that since relationships are essential to this movie, and it would be interesting to know how long they took to develop.

I always think that movies that take something that we take for granted such as language and the barriers that they cause to be interesting ways to show how we really are all one in the same.  The feelings and wants never change. Sure, the town wants to help Ernesto out of selfish reasons as much as Paco is being selfish by hiding his true ways, and Ernesto needs this backwater town to help him escape.  But what comes from this experiences ultimately changes everyone for the better, and all without the help of language.  It's funny to think that Ernesto and Paco can relate to each other way better than some of the characters that speak the same language.  Ultimately, this was such a sweet and uplifting movie, and I can't help but recommend it to anyone that has a chance to see it.

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