Eye For Film >> Movies >> Fly High (2023) Film Review
Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson
A man flies through the city. That it starts with a telephone ringing might be a nod to the end of The Matrix. We see a child with a Superman shirt and action figure. Its perspective is at once older and more modern than 1999 or 1939. There's a social media analogue called 'Quacker', a series of vox pop interviews at street level, and an evolving rolling news response. As the film's few short minutes pass while the man who flies maintains course and altitude, the situation escalates.
It's remarkable that something that seems to so smoothly synthesise the panic of the Global War On Terror can be found in a student film from Piemonte. American cultural hegemony is such that their fears are universally projected, if differently (and often kinetically) received. A moment near the close seems to deliberately recall the Falling Man of September 11th, but that's one of several nods in a film that rewards close attention. There are references to civil unrest as at Ferguson, but that's a wider note in a film of small details. Dropped ice-cream and unseen mustard, t-shirts and taxi-cabs, lines of folk and lines from folk. A general reaction (and a General's reaction) feel right, feel appropriately wrong, and make this a thing itself to wonder at.
Animated (in part?) using Golaem, a crowd simulation tool based on videogaming's Unreal Engine, it benefits from an art style that verges on the expressionist, if not the abstract. I was minded of the comic book sensibilities of Into The Spider-Verse, and not solely from the skylines of a not-New York. The fact that Kingpin is so brutally proportioned is indicative, and Fly High's willingness to make statement with silhouette and shape felt like a cubist version of the anthropomorphism of Blacksad. The use of incompletely block-coloured outlines helped give scenes a depth that is a product of efficiency, one whose seeming sketchiness belies the eye that draws it. The music and sound design by Amos Cappuccio, in particular a woodwind motif that floats as ably as the mysterious figure, really help this to soar.
Yagiz Tunceli, who also writes, Lorenzo Pappa Monteforte, Kevin Rosso and Giuseppina Fais have crafted something delightful. Its whimsy is tempered by a slightly cynical air, its ending doesn't so much ground it as reinforce the surly bonds it so carefully draws. Tunceli and Fais are credited with art direction and concept design, Fais the only one not credited with animation but matte painted backgrounds produce landscape that feels as real as might be required. The animated segment of The French Dispatch was as if The New Yorker had been galvanised, the look here is perhaps more akin to the editorial cartoons one sees in the newspapers of cities that have subway systems more than a hundred years old and a regional pastry.
I loved it. It meanders a little. For all of the breadth of its character design sometimes the targets it aims for are more of the barn-door than the bulls-eye. It still hits a mark. The Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia should be proud of their students, and they, in turn, should be proud of their work. They apparently received help from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Turin University, specifically their Master Course in Audiovisual Translation. The version Eye For Film saw was in English, subtitled back into Italian. A surprise in truth given that it was screening as part of the 2023 Ca'Foscari festival, a gem that is itself organised by students. In a few short minutes it charts a course and fulfils the promise of its title.Reviewed on: 22 Mar 2023