Forgotten Films



View From The Top (2003)

The original idea for February's film fest was going to be 'Great scenes in bad films' which sort of speaks for itself. The main reason I didn't go forward with what is probably fertile ground is that it would have meant rewatching lots of really bad films in order to review those great scenes which doesn't sound like an entertaining way of spending any month. But I thought, just for fun I would let one slip through.

View From The Top is a dreadful film. It's the meandering story of Donna, a small town girl who dreams of becoming an international flight attendant and the trials she has to go through to reach her goal. It's Showgirls with trolly dollies, with unfocused design and inconsistent costume work and the repeated deployment of too long unfunny scenes of Mike Myers forgetting how to do comedy as an instructor. Star Gwyneth Paltrow spends most of her time looking dazed and miscast, as though she's trying to work out how the script she probably signed on for ended up turning into crap by the time it reached the set. I mean look at the hair in that picture...

Yet, somehow at about minute seventy-five, once Donna has joined a major airline the film suddenly changes into something quite good. In fact those final ten minutes look like they were directed by someone else, as the tone calms down, Paltrow starts acting like a human being and the story seems to find a direction that its been lacking for the past hour and a quarter. At the epicentre of the transformation is the expected scene that demonstrates Donna's new jet set lifestyle.

Earlier in the film that could have meant a rather simple, cliched montage of the flight attendant grinning through a number of fabulous places. But instead director Bruno Barreto (if indeed it is he) opts to place us within a single hotel room that represents a range of destinations, the fixtures and fittings changing as the camera pans through 360 degrees to reflect the various locales. Meanwhile, Paltrow steps in and out of frame revealing dozens of costume changes as her new restless existence comes to the fore. If only the rest of the film had been this impressive and so carefully thought through.

It's just about possible to blame the rest of the films fumbles on its troubled history. As the Internet Movie Database describes, although it was completed in 2001 ready for a Christmas release, 9/11 caused it to be put back because the studio thought that a satire on flight attendants might not be such a great idea. The film sat around for a year, then after another series of edits, including the loss of Myers routine about dealing with terrorists it was finally spat out in the US in the Summer of 2003 when it was roundly ignored by everyone and then took even longer to find its way direct to dvd in the UK and it's still available.

But seriously, I wouldn't recommend it. Except for that one scene.

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