AWFJ Women On Film – “Bride Flight” – Susan Granger reviews

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Inspired by the true story of the 1953 “Last Great Air Race,” this is the fictionalized tale of a trio of young, Dutch women who, eager to escape from the flooding in post-WWII Holland, emigrate on a 13,000-mile historic KLM flight from London, England, to Christchurch, New Zealand, for what they envision as a better life.

Shy, farm-raised Ada (Karina Smulders) is already pregnant by the fiancé she met only once but during turbulence on the plane she seeks solace with Frank (Waldemar Torenstra), a rancher whose family died in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Ada dutifully marries her fanatically pious Mennonite fiancé (Micha Hulsof), living in a bunker and bearing him several children but, over the years, her unhappiness grows, and she stealthily maintains secret correspondence with Frank, who now has a vineyard.

Feisty, chain-smoking Esther (Anna Drijver) is an aspiring fashion designer whose Jewish family was killed during the Holocaust. She’s distressed to discover that her strict fiancé insists that she keep a kosher kitchen and observe all religious customs, so that marriage is doomed. Besides, she’s also pregnant by another man. Then there’s earthy Marjorie (Elise Schaap), who yearns for children but discovers that she cannot bear them. So Esther gives her biological child to Marjorie and her husband, but she never relinquishes that son from her heart, feeling guilty because he’s not being raised with knowledge of his Jewish heritage.

Directed by Ben Sombogaart from a cliché-drenched screenplay by Marieke van der Pol, it’s a decade-spanning, multi-generational melodrama, as the intertwined lives of the three, now-70 year-old women cross once again at Frank’s funeral – and each reaches her own resolution and redemption. The older trio is played by Pleuni Touw, Willeke van Ammelrooy and Petra Laseur with Rutger Hauer appearing in a cameo as Frank. Years ago, this kind of chick flick would be called a “weepie.”

In Dutch with English subtitles, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Bride Flight” is an engrossing, if sudsy 6, a nostalgic glimpse into tangled destinies.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.