Fly Me Away (Envole-moi) is a very sincere, if very sentimental, film about connection and impacting someone’s life through the power of friendship.
In most cases, the term ‘love story’ conjures up ideas of passion, of romance, of grand gestures and sweeping orchestral scores. But Christophe Barratier’s Fly Me Away (Envole-moi in French) is a love story about friendship, concerned solely with platonic connection and the impact someone can have upon the life of another person.
Thomas (Victor Belmondo), a wild, hedonistic partier, has used up all his Dad Henri’s (Gérard Lanvin) patience. In an effort to get him to change his ways, Henri organises for Thomas to supervise a young patient of his, twelve year old Marcus (Yoann Eloundou), whose array of medical ailments have severely impacted his life so far. At first daunted by the prospect, Thomas and Marcus soon bond and find themselves changed for the better by their profound friendship.
There’s no tip-toeing around the fact that Fly Me Away is incredibly sentimental. It’s sweet, but not cloying, and so earnest that the more cynical viewer might chafe a bit at the profound niceness of it all. Thomas has Marcus write a list of things he wants to do, and the film is essentially a montage of the pair having fun, interspersed with the harsher realities of Marcus’ ill health. A trip to see Paris St. Germain play football, capers at the beach and a ride in a fancy sports car might sound like a mawkish list, but Barratier is so committed to keeping the focus on connection that that the film avoids becoming too cheesy.. It’s the latter points of Marcus’ wish list that really matter: seeing his Mum (Marie-Sohna Condé) happy and falling in love.
As a film debut, it’s a remarkably mature performance from Eloundou that still feels authentic to a 12-year-old boy. He’ll scoff at Thomas’ irresponsibility, but gleefully drive the sports car. He’ll lash out at his mum, but cuddle up to her as soon as he gets home. It’s nuanced and layered and really affecting, particularly when combined with Belmondo’s Thomas, who feels like a big kid himself.
At times it does stretch credulity. Why would the son of a doctor, whose job is kept purposefully vague and who suffers from a very cavalier attitude to life, be allowed to supervise the physical therapy of a child? Why is he invited to sit in on Marcus’ surgery? But it’s so earnest in its intention and execution that it’s easy to forgive these nit-picks as simply the result of hand-waving ‘reality’ for the purposes of entertainment.
Fly Me Away is the story of love and connection, unabashed in its sentimentality and portrayal of the impact someone can have on your outlook on life. It isn’t ground breaking, nor is it unpredictable, but it doesn’t feel trope-heavy or insincere. It’s a film about influence and changing for the better, heart-warming and inspiring, if a little saccharine.
Fly Me Away (Envole-Moi) will be screened at the French Film Festival @ Home from Friday 10 December, 2021: click here for more information and tickets.
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