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The Boy Who Could Fly Review

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Eric (Underwood), a young boy who was left parentless when his parents were killed in a plane crash, draws the new nextdoor neighbours' (especially young Milly, played by Deakins, who has also lost her father) into his fascinating flights of fancy.

★★★★

Without dwelling on the psychological triggers too much, Castle’s film goes straight into the after-effects of tragedy, tracing the pitch and yaw trajectory of one boy’s attempts to reconcile himself with the enormity of the life he now faces without his parents. Initially, it seems hope is lost as Eric develops autism and becomes ever-more introverted. But then Milly, literally the girl next door, who has suffered her own traumas, comes into his life and refuses to be shut out by his flights of fancy (these are powerful dramatic insertions by Castle – Eric performs a childish mime of flying, his arms aloft, strongly implicating the cause, as well as the harsh reality, of his parents’ death as integral to his developing character).

Despite the pressures on them, and despite the ease with which this drama could slip into outright silliness, the central performances and the astute direction keep a lid on any sentimentality and leave behind a powerful, if not absolutely uplifting, impression of a troubled child’s mindset.

A commendable rarity: a sensitive children’s film that neither patronises them nor insults their intelligence.