A Dark Reflection succeeds in delivering a densely plotted narrative in which the hero turns the ignition key...
Directed By Tristan Loraine
A Dark Reflection opens with two nervous passengers in the back of an SUV, weaving its way through mountainous Afghanistan en route to a covert rendezvous. The thumping soundtrack puts us firmly in Bourne territory and gives us a clue to how the meeting will pan out. Like its stylistic cousin, 'A Dark Reflection' takes its time knotting all the different plot threads together. Back in England: an air traffic controller is suspended for what may have been a mistake; a local girl is taken to hospital with Carbon Monoxide poisoning; investigative journalist Helen Eastman (Georgina Sutcliffe) takes a job at a local paper in an effort to put Afghanistan behind her. From all of this emerges a modern day conspiracy theory- with implications for anyone intending to travel by air.
Billed as an ‘investigative thriller’ (and made by former pilot Tristan Loraine) the film is somewhere between documentary and genre. At first the audience may wonder why this wasn’t filmed as a standard Hollywood thriller, possessing as it does all the necessary ingredients. As the story develops, the answer becomes clear. Documentary or thriller, this is a film with a clear agenda: to deliver a message to the cinema going public about a secret kept by the aviation industry.
As cinema, A Dark Reflection succeeds in delivering a densely plotted narrative in which the hero turns the ignition key, wondering if it is the last thing she will ever do. Yet beyond the story (all the more chilling for being true to life), the film becomes less successful. Technically savvy thriller audiences will perk up when the hero asks an aircraft mechanic to explain how a jet engine starts- and then be left frustrated when the film side-steps technical detail to focus on plot. Conversely, audiences used to bite-sized Hollywood exposition may be turned off by the amount of information the film does deliver. (Where is Jack Bauer when you need him?) This awkward balance also shows up in the characters, who are trapped in a netherworld between true-to-life recreation and a fully rounded dramatis personae. The problem lies in the script: intent on sticking to the facts, it glosses over any attempt to flesh out the people. The most life-like of these is Eastman’s editor (Paul Antony-Barber), who paradoxically is also the most movie-like: simply because his part is the most written.
Gripes aside, A Dark Reflection works best as an ambitiously produced documentary which will prove fascinating to anyone who follows the darwinian and technical world of aviation industry politics. Likewise, documentary enthusiasts will be left unsettled by the sinister secret at its core. Watch this if you like to fly.