Wednesday, December 05, 2012
flights of fancy
I met him when I went to work at SAIF in 1989.
We will call him Paul. Not his real name. You will soon see why.
He was one of those young guys everybody liked in college. Men wanted to be his best friend. Women wanted him to be their husband. Our own Russell Crowe.
And he was an audacious attorney. Well-spoken. Quick-witted. Smart. His clients loved him as their champion. His opponents feared his tread.
But life was not kind to him. His wife left, and then divorced, him. He left our law firm for another. That did not last long. He tried solo practice. That went even worse.
Through it all, I was his friend. But he eventually pushed me away, as well. In the end, he lost his license to practice law. And drifted.
His name is Paul. He is an alcoholic.
I thought about him all the way through Flight -- Denzel Washington's current film.
The story is similar. Heroic professional acting bravely to save lives.
In Denzel's case, a commercial pilot who calmly lands an airliner under next to impossible circumstances -- saving most of the lives on board. And does it while under the influence of both booze and cocaine.
This is a tale of an addict. A guy whose skills as a pilot are so great that he can mask the fact that his life is out of control. As much as that airplane diving uncontrollably to the ground.
And anyone who knows an addict knows the rest of this story. There are moments of recovery where the booze is tossed out of the house. To be followed by tough circumstances where the addict seeks solace in the numbing force of alcohol.
Even though the story is familiar, this one is well told. A bit boring at points where Denzel sinks into the depths of his addiction. And the film seems to lose its own rhythm.
And the ending is just a bit too American. Too convenient.
But the climax pits the addict against his addiction in a real and well sat up moral choice. One I did not see coming, but also had the feel of inevitability about it.
Flight -- a triple pun title about the airliner crash, the addict's descent into desperation, and his attempt to flee from the choices he must make -- is a film that reminds me of the Pauls in our own lives.
And how their flight is their own. We can merely be there to help them through some of the crashes.