Flying Lessons (Derek Magyar, 2010): USA

Reviewed by Jacqueline Gomez. Viewed at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

The film Flying Lessons directed by Derek Magyar tells the coming of age story of Sophie a twenty five year old burnout moving back in with her mother after having been dumped by her boyfriend in Los Angeles. After moving back Sophie learns to live again through the love of her high school sweetheart and caring for an old man with Alzheimer’s disease

One of the main problems with Flying Lessons is the acting. Maggie Grace leads the film as the main character Sophie. While Grace is a beautiful girl, I feel as if her looks are more for a surf add campaign than a burned out adult who has lead a whirlwind life of drugs, sex, and alcohol. I recently saw Grace alongside Liam Nilsson in “Taken” as an innocent daughter of a wealthy ex CIA agent. This persona better suits Grace, as she doesn’t have the edge needed to pull off this tough girl personality. She never had any emotion in her face and had absolutely no personality in the film. Jonathan Tucker who plays her high school sweetheart, Billy, was also difficult to watch. As he breaks down in one scene there was no credibility to it. Although he was crying abut his incarcerated father I just wanted the scene to be over. Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride) and Hol Holbrook (Into the Wild) also co-star. Neither performance had me begging for more although Holbrook as the old man with Alzheimer’s Disease is more credible than the rest of the cast.

The screenplay had one crucial error; there was absolutely no originality. This includes the dialogue, the story, and the characters themselves. Thomas Kuehl who is credited with the writing credits has also done work for the TV show “Glee” as well as other TV work. We have heard this story before. A woman gets involved in loose sex and alcohol, she moves back home, falls for her high school sweetheart, learns her mother was having an affair, and learns a lesson from an old man. I found parts like her running away to New York with her boyfriend, or swimming naked with her high school sweetheart in the old high school pool very clique.

The mise-en-scene was very dull. Everything from the boring costumes to the brown setting of Santa Inez. The one costume I did enjoy was in the very beginning.     Grace is wearing a sparkly cub dress and a pair of black pumps. The scene seemed interesting, there was a low back light and crude bar music playing. The camera follows the back of Grace and did an interesting reveal of her face and introduction to the character Sophie, but after that the mise-en-scene of the film goes downhill.

The editing was done by Taylor Aueking who has also done other films such as “Isolation.” I found the editing very confusing. I feel as if the characters would be in an important conversation when the editing would quickly switch over to another scene. It was confusing and frustrating. Overall I feel as if “Flying Lessons” was a very amateur movie in every aspect of film, including the title. I want to feel inspired when I go to the movies, and expect something I have never seen before. “Flying Lessons” definitely doesn’t deliver.

About this entry