Criticism | Sully

(c) 2016 Vernon Miles Kerr

From an aviation and technological standpoint, Producer/Director Clint Eastwood’s film about Captain Chesley Sullenberger’s heroic landing of an airliner in the Hudson River in 2009, is a riveting and entertaining movie.  From an historical and artistic standpoint it is suprememly dissapointing.

While it is a marketing truism that a motion picture needs a villain, Eastwood and screenwriter Todd Komarnicki could have done better than depicting the National Transportation Saftey Board (NTSB) as a group of  prejudicial biggots on a mission to ground Sullenberger.  While admitedly very entertaining, the picture could have reached the level of enduring art if Eastwood and Komarnicki had showcased more of the real villain, like the agonizing self-doubt, presumed PTSD and unwanted notoriety  that must have been a part of the real journey of Chesley Sullenberger. Sometimes, victory between the ears is more engaging and meaningful than triumph on the battlefield.

This is not meant to be a criticism of Eastwood and Komarnicki, per se but rather a criticism of the  trite, worn Hollywood formulas that screenwriters feel obligated to follow if they are to have any hope of seeing their work on the big screen.  Every year at the Oscars we hear much narcisistic yammering about Cinema being “Art.”   Some films have been art, but until more screenwriters and producers are willing to abandon the practice of replacing real life possibilies with gimmicks, Cinema will continue being the stepchild of true art.

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