Self-discovery is the theme of Francesca Archibugi’s “Flying Lessons,” but pic’s juve lead ends basically where he began, as a spoiled, listless and uninteresting character. Archibugi is normally a perspicacious inter-preter of youth’s psychological pitfalls, but here the protag’s best friend and parents potentially have much more involving stories to tell. With a story that shuttles between Italy, India and Scotland, pic has been flying at middling B.O. altitudes since mid-March, thanks to largely warm reviews; offshore takeoff looks unlikely.
Well-to-do, lethargic Apollonio, aka Pollo (Andrea Miglio Risi), persuades his parents to let him accompany best bud Marco, aka “Curry” (Tom Karumathy), to India. Indian by birth, Curry was adopted as an infant by a sympathetic Roman couple (Angela Finocchiaro and Roberto Citran, fine) and now wants to see his native land.
In Jodhpur, the two fall in with Italo doctor Chiara (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), who takes them to her aid agency’s clinic in the deserts of Rajasthan. Needing some release from the stress of her job, and with her Scottish husband (Douglas Henshall) in Sri Lanka, Chiara welcomes a mind-less roll in the hay with Pollo. He, however, fails to grasp the tran-sient nature of their bit of fun.
Curry’s sudden search for his real mom — which could have developed into the pic’s strongest storyline, given newcomer Karumathy’s obvious acting smarts — comes much too late in the picture. Repeated reminders of Pollo’s Jewish heritage are possibly meant to position him as some kind of outsider, but they fail to provide him with any additional depth or nuance.
However, Archibugi neither panders to nor glamorizes India. Lensing is smooth, initially setting up a tonal contrast between scenes in Rome (warm colors) and Jodhpur (sun-bleached) that gradually becomes less pro-nounced. Generic, overused music contribs to the overall flattening of tone.