Today’s entry in the 44 Days of Paranoia is a low-budget British film called Flying Blind. Made in 2012, Flying Blind got a limited release in the U.S. earlier this year and is currently showing up on cable.
Flying Blind tells the story of Frankie (Helen McCrory), an aerospace engineer who designs drones for the British military. She also lectures at Bristol University and this is where she meets the much younger Kahil (Najib Oudghiri). Despite the difference in their ages, Frankie and Kahil start an affair. As Frankie becomes more and more obsessed with her younger lover, she also starts to realize that there’s a lot about his background that he seems reluctant to share with her. Frankie’s prejudiced father (Kenneth Cranham) immediately distrusts Kahil. When MI5 contacts Frankie and tells her that Kahil is “a person of interest,” she starts to do her own investigation into his background. Is Kahil a terrorist or is he just a victim of a paranoid society? The answer, to be honest, is not that much of a surprise.
I really wanted to like Flying Blind because it was obviously made with the best of intentions. It was also made for only £345,000 and we always want to support low-budget, independent films that attempt to tell intelligent stories about intelligent people. Unfortunately, this idealistic desire can sometimes lead people like me to make excuses for films that just aren’t that good. When I look at some of the positive reviews that have been posted online, it’s hard not to feel like there’s a lot of people making excuses for Flying Blind.
The truth of the matter is that Flying Blind takes an interesting premise and then explores it in the least interesting, most predictable way possible. For a film that’s attempting to say something about paranoia and ambiguity, it leaves very little doubt about who is in the right and who is in the wrong. Perhaps the film’s biggest problem is that Helen McCrory and Najib Oudghiri have next to no chemistry. Their relationship never feels genuine and, while I applaud the film’s attempt to portray a mature sexual relationship, the sex scenes themselves are rather awkward. It’s easy to understand why everyone in the film is so quick to assume that Oudghiri must be using McCrory because they never make sense as a couple.
Flying Blind tells an important story. It just doesn’t tell it very well.
Other entries in the 44 Days Of Paranoia: