The Theory Of Flight

on December 23, 1998 by Kevin Courrier
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   "The Theory of Flight" is about an eccentric inventor, Richard (Kenneth Branagh), who designs a makeshift flying machine so his life can literally (and figuratively) take flight. But his actions land him in front of a judge who gives him 120 hours of community service. He's assigned to a local hospital where he meets Jane (Helena Bonham Carter), a paraplegic woman in a wheelchair who is smart, witty, full of life--and wants to lose her virginity.
   Initially, the story is quirky rather than inspirational, and it gets by on the interplay of the two actors. Carter occasionally goes for something more erotic in the character than simple pathos, and she hits some funny notes. Branagh also is adept as her foil until he starts to turn precious over his desperation to deflower her. Worse, the film condescends to this woman's disability by suggesting that Richard is the one who's truly handicapped. The weight of such homilies cause "The Theory of Flight" to hit the ground with a thud.    Starring Helena Bonham Carter and Kenneth Branagh. Directed by Paul Greengrass. Written by Richard Hawkins. Produced by Anant Singh, Helena Spring, Ruth Caleb and David Thompson. A Fine Line release. Drama. Rated R for sexuality and language. Running time: 100 min.
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