Predictable plotting and weak perfs let down South African-Swedish big-top story with a thud in "The Flyer." First-time helmer Revel Fox, a former trapeze-artist, gracefully captures aerial gymnastics, but that won't be enough to make this fly in the distribution fair beyond the Cape of Good Hope, except as a kids' pic on ancillary.

Predictable plotting and weak perfs let down South African-Swedish big-top story with a thud in “The Flyer.” First-time helmer Revel Fox, a former trapeze-artist, gracefully captures aerial gymnastics, but that won’t be enough to make this fly in the distribution fair beyond the Cape of Good Hope, except as a kids’ pic on ancillary. Fashionability of S.A.-cinema may ensure further fest bookings.

Mixed-race street urchin Kier (natural actor Jarrid Geduld first as a child, then played by the much less expressive adult Ian van der Heyden) becomes an accomplished trapeze flyer under the tutelage of curmudgeonly owner Anders (Marcel van Heerden). But his gangster brother Spies (Marvin Pasqualie first, then Craig Palm), who went to jail to save Kier from the law, pressures him to return to a life of crime, forcing a no-brainer choice between flying or probably dying. Fox favors slo-mo to show impressive trapeze sequences by stunt people, but story bits in between drag, while thesps seem stunned by the trite dialogue. Lensing looks underlit in the interiors. Rest of the tech package is borderline.

The Flyer

South Africa-Sweden

Production

An IMG production, in association with M-Net, National Film and Video Foundation, Rand Merchant Bank (South Africa), Film i Vast (Sweden). (International sales: Non Stop, Stockholm.) Produced by Jeremy Nathan, Joel Phiri, Michelle Wheatley. Executive producer, Ronnie Apteker. Directed by Revel Fox. Screenplay, Philip Roberts, Fox.

Crew

Camera (color), Rob Malpage; editor, Richard Starkey; music, Philip Miller; production designer, Keith Anderson; art director, Rudi Portwig. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Piazza Grande), Aug. 10, 2005. English, Afrikaans dialogue. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Ian van der Heyden, Marcel van Heerden, Craig Palm, Jarrid Geduld, Marvin Pasqualie, Kim Engelbrecht.
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