Much of what transpires in Aloft washes over you like a hypnotic dream, with peril and anguish looming at the corners, ever ready to flood the delicate drama at the core of director Claudia Llosa’s film. It’s more a sensual experience than a narrative, and while the dystopian prophecy boasts a concrete plot—or two—Llosa has loftier ambitions. Think The Tree of Life or Life of Pi, but Llosa’s film never quite spreads its wings.
Set somewhere in a slightly alternative reality, in the near future, in a place that’s rooted very much in the here and now, Aloft centers on a French journalist (Melanie Laurent) who’s making a documentary about a reclusive female faith healer living in a remote compound on a frozen arctic lake. She connects with a troubled falconer (Cillian Murphy) with ties to the much sought one, who can harness the power of nature to cure terminal illnesses. Given that such skills in a traditional office park might result in long lines and traffic headaches, the tough-to-reach outpost somewhat makes sense—though, if it’s such a bitch to get to, might not the dying and the needy expire long before arriving at the doorstep of salvation?
In a separate spindle, some 20 years earlier, a single mother (an alluring Jennifer Connelly sporting a rat tail) toils on a pig farm raising two boys. The youngest is sick and without much prospect, while the older, through reckless abandon, constantly puts his feeble younger sibling at risk (joyriding in a pickup truck on thin ice). Connelly’s Nana, desperate, turns to a New Age-y sect, where the head, considered a drunkard and a charlatan by nonbelievers, is rumored to remedy those whose doctors have closed the book on. Continue reading