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1 item from 1998

Film Review: 'Theory' Acting Supports 'Theory' / Leads make energetic and balanced plot soar

22 December 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

A heartfelt and whimsical story, "The Theory of Flight" stars Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter as disabled people thrust together who magically come to love one another. Unfortunately, this warmhearted film shows its story seams too transparently and may receive mixed reaction at the art house venues for which it seems destined.

In this scruffy delight, Branagh stars as Richard, a man frazzled by everyday life and his disintegrating romance with a loving banker. He takes to nonsensical, quixotic quests such as rigging up a homemade airplane and leaping off buildings on Charing Cross.

Not surprisingly, this captures the attention of the system, and "stressed" Richard is sentenced to community service. His assignment is wholly ludicrous, as one would expect coming from a social agency, but in this case, it's also magical. Fragile Richard must care for Jane (Bonham Carter), a young woman in the end stages of a terminal motor disease. Confined to a wheelchair and hunched, she's nonetheless a feisty spirit and, in many ways, healthier than poor Richard.

While the plot arc is transparently predictable, "Theory" bounds with energy and genuinely quirky moments. Screenwriter Richard Hawkins has crafted an uplifting scenario balanced with comedy and pathos -- it is genuinely touching. Under director Paul Greengrass' well-modulated guidance, this Fine Line release is generally pleasing entertainment.

Where "Flight" soars is in the performances: Branagh is wonderful as the addled, desperate Richard, and Bonham Carter flexes her acting muscles in her hunched portrayal that presents this woman's determination and desperation.

Technical contributions are spit and polish, and particularly eloquent is cinematographer Ivan Strasburg's tellingly framed compositions that clue us not only to the characters' daily struggles but to their transcendent inner natures as well.


Fine Line Features

Credits: Producers: David M. Thompson, Anant Singh, Helena Spring, Ruth Caleb; Director: Paul Greengrass; Screenwriter: Richard Hawkins; Director of photography: Ivan Strasburg; Editor: Mark Day; Music: Rolfe Kent; Music supervisor: Sterling Meredith; Costume designer: Dinah Collin; Production designer: Melanie Allen; Casting directors: John Hubbard, Ros Hubbard. Cast: Jane: Helena Bonham Carter; Richard: Kenneth Branagh; Anne: Gemma Jones; Julie: Holly Aird. MPAA rating: R. Color/stereo. Running time -- 98 minutes.


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1 item from 1998

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