Happy flight (2008) – a laugh riot and an edgy thriller

Japanese contemporary films are very new to me. I always wanted to explore Japanese cinema beyond Kurosawa, so gave it a try when there is a Japanese film festival happening in the city. There are a very few films which are entirely set in airports or flights in Indian cinema-like Gaganam(2011), Neerja(2016) and those films tend to be panic films and reach an extremely serious tone especially in the second half of the film. But this film is different from them as it revolves around the entire aviation industry and what it takes to make the passengers reach the ground safely.

Happy flight directed by Shinobu Yaguchi is a film that shows another regular day at the airport and the cabin crew getting ready for their jobs, the co-pilot’s training and first flight and also the mechanics giving the finishing touches before the final flight. There is no single protagonist and a complete side of the portrayal of their story. It is about all of them who are behind the successful journey of your flight.

The flight to Honolulu has onboard a lot of students, an angry businessman and a couple on their honeymoon and a kid who is traveling alone. This is a bunch of characters that create a great behavioral comedy in the flight. Each person who appears on the screen adds something to the film and makes it what it is. It is just like real life, everyone has a story and everyone has their struggles. This film just skims through the lives of those people like a flight through the clouds.

What makes this film different and realistic is it shows the work done by the cabin crew behind the curtains, how they serve and market their meals and what do they do in times of crisis or shortage of goods. Just like humans even these comic characters behave very bravely in times of emergencies and looks for the safety of the passengers before themselves. Some people are extremely rude to them, people clicking their pictures and calling them for things repetitively but this bunch of women even though with a few imperfections done in their jobs just does it perfectly. And when they couldn’t handle things or jumble the requests of the passengers it’s time for laughs.

The pilots laughing nervously in times of emergency landing, a passenger throwing up in an apron of a stewardess and the inside jokes of the cabin crew the film is filled with hilarious moments like these. And it makes you cry at the misery of the rookie cabin crew girl along with her and instantly makes you feel happy for her when she proves herself again after making a desert. The edgy part of the film comes when the mechanics discover that there is a wrench left in the engine of the flight and the flight mid-air gives trouble.

The background score of the film is what keeps it edgy for the final 30mins, even though it’s a monotonous tune it adds an effect to build up the tension in the film and makes you feel like you are in that situation. There is panic all over and the couple on the honeymoon almost prepares to die. The cabin manager plays a key role in handling the panic of the members and the passengers in this scene. Her performance in these scenes stands as a highlight to the film. How the rookie young pilot deals with the situation of an emergency landing which is almost a nightmare to every pilot are the rest of the climax. It makes you clap along with the passengers in the flight.

This movie reminded me of the first flight journey I made alone recently and by the end of it, I was thankful to all the people who had made sacrifices to make my journey smooth. At the end of the film, you will become more empathetic towards the cabin crew, make you appreciate the work they do for you and allows seeing the heroes who make you fly. There is a situation in the film when the captain asks the co-pilot “what is a good landing” to which he replies “when the passenger doesn’t even feel that they are landing, that’s a good landing” I believe it’s the same case with a film. While watching this film you will feel like a part of the film and this is truly the success of the director and his team.

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