Blind Flight Review

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While heading to work in Beirut in 1985, Irish teacher Brian Keenan (Hart) is kidnapped at gunpoint by a car-load of armed Arab terrorists. After many months in captivity, he is joined in his cell by another hostage, English journalist John McCarthy (Roache).


What is there left to say about the experiences of Brian Keenan and John McCarthy? After high-profile books (Keenan's An Evil Cradling and McCarthy's Some Other Rainbow), a TV dramatisation (1993's Hostages with Ciarán Hinds and Colin Firth) and extensive news coverage at the time, you might think that the ground had been covered from several angles. And yet none of these lessen the impact of Blind Flight on a cinema audience.

This is a truly inspirational, moving, intimate and compassionate reading of these true events. The action rarely strays outside the four walls that confine the hostages, cutting them (and us) off from the passing of time and any political developments in the outside world. Instead, the focus falls squarely on the performances - and here the actors are faultless.

Hart is feisty and charismatic as the Belfast man who understands oppression, while Roache takes his character on a long journey from confidence to despair and back again. But it's what they achieve together that is remarkable: a dual portrait of human endurance that's not afraid to empathise with the supposed terrorist "bad guys".

Furse's assured feature debut is made stronger by central performances that don't flinch from the physical and psychological truths of the situation. Equally fascinating is the understanding the film offers the captors.