Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Cillian Murphy, Melanie Laurent
Directed by: Claudia Llosa (“The Milk of Sorrow”)
Written by: Claudia Llosa (“The Milk of Sorrow”)
Despite an emotionally-charged performance by Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Connelly (“A Beautiful Mind”) as a mother whose life takes a tragic turn and prompts her to abandon her child, “Aloft” is a film drowning in vagueness and self-importance. Directed by Peruvian Oscar-nominated filmmaker Claudia Llosa (“The Milk of Sorrow”), “Aloft” is shot with passion from behind the camera, but Llosa’s script is such a thematic mess, it’s impossible for anything to overshadow its pretentious nature.
The film jumps back and forth between the past and present, which would be an embraced storytelling technique if the time frames didn’t feel so detached. Connelly stars as Nana, the mother of two boys, one of which is living with a terminal illness, who puts her faith in a healer known as the Architect (William Shimmel) to cure her son.
Fast forward to the present where one of Nana’s young boys Ivan (Cillian Murphy), now an adult and a falconer, has been hoodwinked by Jannia (Melanie Laurent), a French filmmaker with ulterior motives about why she has come to interview Ivan for a documentary she is making. After a series of untruths between each other, the two set out on a journey to find Nana who has since become somewhat of a healer herself.
With a frustratingly constructed screenplay that never reaches the emotional high notes Llosa is trying to hit, “Aloft” is rich in atmosphere and poetry, but never find a way to bring it all together narratively. It’s fairly evident that Llosa has some deep-seated sentiment she wants to make soar, but the way she confronts her material as a screenwriter is not very welcoming. The pace moves to the sound of a death knell, which wouldn’t be a problem in itself if Llosa was able to inject a little life into these depressing characters. Nevertheless, “Aloft” stays mostly stagnant until Connelly turns a switch and gives a depth to her character that is accessible to the audience. It’s not enough, however, as Llosa’s heavy-handedness ultimately comes out on top.