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BWW Reviews: FLYING BLIND, Edinburgh International Film Festival, June 2012

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This film deliberately tricks its audience. It starts out as an erotic romantic comedy, passes through political thriller and ends as a philosophical personal drama. What you realise at the end of the film, however, is that it was a personal drama all along: each set of genre conventions reflects the shifting perceptions of the main character, Frankie, a sassy aerospace engineer who works for the government designing drone planes.

What seems like an exciting if faintly scandalous affair with an engineering student takes on a new tone when Frankie is investigated by anti-terrorism officials. Is Cahil a honey trap sent by Algerian insurgents to sabotage the drone project, or is the relationship they develop based on a genuine romantic connection?

This central question is left scarily unanswered, both for Frankie and for the audience. The normally unemotional and powerful Frankie exposed to the political chaos and uncertainty of contemporary international politics. Is Britain on the right side of this war? And, in a climate of secrecy and suspicion, how can we know? Frankie is left alone in the world to think about the moral implications of her life time of designing machines that, for all their elegance, kill people.

Helen McCrory plays Frankie with arresting complexity, adapting smoothly from the confident one-liners at the beginning of the film to the doubts and silences of the end to make the character very believable.

For its powerful performances and fascinating political content, this is not a film to miss.

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