Starring: Marion Cotillard, Guillaume Canet, Guillaume Marquet
Director: Karim Dridi
Running Time: 98 mins
The Last Flight (Le dernier vol) is a French film about the story of a woman who joins forces with the French army to undertake an expedition to find her lost lover in the middle of the Sahara desert.
Set in 1933, this film feels somewhat like an homage to classic desert adventure movies from the golden age of Hollywood. It certainly delivers on that on the visual front, but when attempting to emulate the epic scope of the classics, it falls very short thanks to a languishing story that features little sense of adventure or emotional power during the search for this woman’s lost partner.
Before we get into the many problems with The Last Flight, I want to say that it looks really good. Visually, it creates an epic scope comparable to a lot of classic desert movies, with some beautiful panoramic shots reminiscent of Lawrence Of Arabia, making the desert backdrop absolutely stunning to look at throughout.
What’s more is that the settings are matched by the brilliant production and costume design. If there’s anything about this film that puts you firmly in 1933 French Sahara, it’s the production, because it’s done absolutely brilliantly, with fantastic attention to detail all over the sets and costumes, creating the most convincing part of the film by far.
As well as paying homage to classic desert adventures, this film also tries to show you how harsh the desert landscape can be to humans attempting to battle it. In some scenes, particularly in the final act, that comes across really well, and there is a real sense of peril that makes you care about our main characters, but in others, it just doesn’t work out.
The major issue with this film is that it’s far too sluggish to be an engrossing adventure/survival story. When the going gets tough, it should become a whole lot more exciting and nail-biting to watch, but the fact that so much of the film prior to the major hardships moves at such a slow pace, it already feels like you’ve been through hell and back slugging across the desert with these characters, when it wasn’t even meant to be that tough.
As a result, the slow pacing had a huge impact on my ability to get interested in this story and form an emotional connection with our characters. Even with a top actress like Marion Cotillard in one of the lead roles, this film can’t quite save itself from being a languid and dull, albeit visually pretty, affair, and that’s why I’m giving The Last Flight a 6.2.