“Bride Flight” has all the earmarks of a lush, slightly ridiculous TV miniseries, all squeezed into a jam-packed 130 minutes. A few decades and many dramas get covered in this Dutch production.
It begins in the present, as a Dutch expatriate dies in his New Zealand vineyard. He’s played by Ru
tger Hauer, the durable star who hasn’t made a film for his native country, Holland, in years.
Flashbacks will tell us who this man was and why three women are converging for his funeral. Actually, the guy is second fiddle; this movie is about the women’s journey.
All four meet on an epic flight from Amsterdam to New Zealand in the early 1950s, adventurers looking for a new way of life. The flight is historically accurate; it was part of an air race between competing airlines.
The man is Frank (Waldemar Torenstra), a jaunty fellow set on farming. He’s instantly smitten with Ada (Karina Smulders), but this wide-eyed innocent is promised to a preacher waiting for her in New Zealand. Also bonding during the flight is a flamboyant fashion designer (Anna Drijver), who lost her family in the Holocaust, and a determined bride-to-be (Elise Schaap).
Friendships, betrayals, pregnancies, rivalries, all the stuff of soap opera follows. Throw in a couple of steamy sex scenes, and the movie’s cup runneth over.
Which is basically the problem. Very enjoyable to watch for a while, especially with the pretty New Zealand location shooting, “Bride Flight” piles up the melodrama with a little too much gusto.
And except for the unhappy Ada (Smulders does a lot of good, silent-film-worthy acting with just her facial expressions), the characters aren’t much more than types. Director Ben Sombogaart keeps it all moving along, but eventually the skin-deep storytelling reveals itself.
That skin is good-looking, however, and there’s also something hard to resist in stories about lifelong friendships that spring from chance encounters.
Maybe this movie actually should have been a TV miniseries; heaven knows there’s enough raw material here to cover 10 hours or so.
Four strangers meet on a flight from Holland to New Zealand, where their lives will intersect in a variety of soap opera-worthy ways. The movie’s enjoyable for quite a while, in a TV-miniseries kind of way, although eventually the melodrama becomes far-fetched. In Dutch, with English subtitles.
Rated: R for nudity.