Starring Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, Melanie Laurent,
The third feature film from Peruvian filmmaker Claudia Llosa is her most recognized work yet, due to the fact it stars Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, The House of Sand and Fog) and Batman Begins’ Cillian Murphy. Llosa’s most difficult task here is convincing the audience to care what happens to her characters on screen, both in past and present. While a very common storytelling technique, intertwining the past and the present, Llosa’s script can’t seem to figure out how to successfully edit the two time periods together in a complementary way. For instance, what events we see happening in the early stages of our main character’s life, coinciding with present day discovery, have little or nothing to do with each other. The bleak parameters of the storyline combined with the frigid surroundings echo a statement in the film, “it’s just too much to bare”.
Single mother Nana Kunning (Connelly) fears for the future of her youngest son Gully, diagnosed with an inoperable mass. She takes both of her sons to see an infamous healer, known to cure people with a single touch. His abilities are only granted to those randomly selected, and only one per each town he visits. When Nana’s eldest son Ivan loses control of his pet falcon, something unexpected happens, changing the course of the Kunning’s life. 20 years later, Ivan (Murphy) and his mother, now a known healer in her own right, haven’t spoken in years. He journeys through ice and snow with journalist Jannia Ressmore (Laurent) to face his mother and find closure for the tragedy that changed their lives.
More often than not, painstakingly dull.
More often than not, Aloft feels like a personal journey for the filmmaker that the audience doesn’t have enough information to comprehend. The journey from past to present is thankfully a short one, since these characters, portrayed by very talented actors, never evolve into emotionally interesting people. The most shocking scene in the film comes from the young actor portraying Ivan in the past as he is mentally unable to handle the tragedy that strikes the family. Audiences will likely have a problem and distance themselves emotionally from Nana who is never seen as a loving or caring mother by the actions given to her in the script.
Connelly’s Nana is frustrating to watch as she is painted as cold, indifferent and distant. Not an unfamiliar character type for the actress, but the writing, or at least what we see on screen, never explores her behaviors or even the transition to the person she becomes later in life. It’s too bad that Aloft doesn’t make the most of the performers abilities in a better script. While the film does have some memorable visual quality, it’s more often than not painstakingly dull. Throughout her career Connelly has had a difficult time finding projects and characters that cater to her specific abilities, this is certainly not one of her better choices.
Filmmaker unable to weave an interesting or compelling story.