© Weltkino Filmverleih

Fearless Flyers - Fliegen für Anfänger (Northern Comfort)
Iceland/U.K./Germany 2023

Opening 12 Oct 2023

Directed by: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson
Writing credits: Halldór Laxness Halldórsson, Tobias Munthe, Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson
Principal actors: Lydia Leonard, Timothy Spall, Ella Rumpf

Icelandic director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson’s black comedy’s wickedness grows exponentially as glitches multiply testing the protagonist’s timetable. He would know, too, all about Iceland’s weather conditions, particularly regarding the challenges for airplanes landing/taking off.

The simulation test is completed, and the seven terrified individuals sit gaping in fear as Esther (Ashley McGuire) explains their final test—a real, live flight from London. Esther’s calm, soothing voice is in control of the class and her inept assistant Charlie (Simon Manyonda), is reminding them, “It’s not the destination, it’s the flight.” They desperately want to overcome their fear of flying. At the airport, though, when another glitch occurs and then a destination-change is announced, their numbers drop. Only Sarah, (Lydia Leonard) the anxious and apprehensive property developer, Edward (Timothy Spall), the prize-winning novelist, and Alfons (Sverrir Gudnason), the entrepreneur being towed along by his influencer girlfriend Coco (Ella Rumpf) gamely follow Charlie onboard. Then the plane incurs a really rough patch; they land rumpled and feeling equal doses of consternation and stupefaction. Realizing how off course she is re: meeting boyfriend Tom (Emun Elliott) and daughter (Serene Gardner Masoud) Sarah panics. The next glitch sends them seething to a wellness hotel. Coco and Alfons find common ground with Dries (Björn Hlynur Haraldsson); it evolves into a “fight or flight” situation with Charlie flying by the seat of his pants. The fearless readjust their compasses, putting pressure on Ralph (Rob Delaney).

Sigurðsson and co-scriptwriters’ Halldór Laxness Halldórsson and Tobias Munthe are not concerned with propriety or political correctness in their wacky screenplay, so take heed. The cast is good; Spall’s character is full of surprises, and interestingly, again vacuity characterizes the influencer—as in Tringle of Sadness (2022). Production values are good: Niels Thastum’s cinematography (they filmed at Gatwick airport, London during a pandemic restriction), Kristján Loðmfjörð’s editing and Björn Viktorsson and Huldar Frever Arnarson’s sound design. Daníel Bjarnason’s lovely music weaves violin medleys with wide-ranging classical selections from Vivaldi to Mozart. As the fearless flyers’ situation becomes dire, one then another realize only by sticking together can they hope to eat currywurst in Römerberg. (Marinell Haegelin)

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