Monday, October 03, 2016

A Water Landing

     Sully (2016) [D: Clint Eastwood. Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart et al].
     Chesley Sullenberger landed American Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River after losing both engines to a birdstrike shortly after take-off. The movie is built around the Aviation Safety Board hearing into the “crash” (Sully insists it was a “water landing”), presented as attempting to show that a return to LaGuardia was possible, which would imply that instead of being a hero, Sully was a fool. The film convinces us he was a hero. Or rather, that he was a man. He didn’t want to die, so he did the best he could do, and it worked.
     Excellent reconstructions of the crash, nice flashbacks into Sully’s 40-year flying career (beginning with his flying lessons as a teenager), believable characterisations of men and women who just do their job. The cross-cutting between past and present, indoors and out, in the plane and on the ground, hearing rooms and streets, the hotel and Sully’s home, heighten tension: We know that all 155 people on the plane survived, that Sully was vindicated, but the movie still engages us so thoroughly that for a while we feel that things could turn out very badly indeed. Hanks respects the character he plays.
     Simulation of the event is available on on YouTube:
     Watch the movie in a theatre if possible. ***½

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