Professional reserve crumbles in the face of an overwhelming romance in Flying Blind, a modest but absorbing, low-budget first feature from director Katarzyna Klimkiewicz that unfolds with a cool poise. Maintaining a sense of mystery throughout a trim running time, it could repay enthusiastic interest from a domestic distributor but will seem equally at home on the small screen following a world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

The film carefully surrenders its secrets whilst maintaining enough notes of ambiguity to leave viewers intrigued about the truth of the matter. One of the pleasures of Flying Blind lies in the strong central performance from Helen McCrory (Hugo, Harry Potter etc) as brilliant, fortysomething aerospace engineer Frankie. McCrory shines in a rare leading film role as a woman whose confident sense of control over her life and work proves to be a flattering illusion. She exudes a steely professionalism and blithe indifference to any suggestion that her willingness to serve the military industrial complex demands at least some ethical qualms.

A chance encounter with young Muslim student Kahil (Najib Oudghiri) leads to a passionate romance in which Frankie grows to believe she can have it all from thriving career to mysterious young lover. The audience is encouraged to assume that Kahil is too good to be true, an impression that seems to be confirmed when it is revealed that he is not a student. Set in Bristol, the film is crisply shot by Andrzej Wojciechowksi and the intelligent screenplay by Naomi Wallace and Bruce McLeod carefully surrenders its secrets whilst maintaining enough notes of ambiguity to leave viewers intrigued about the truth of the matter.

A very human drama. Flying Blind takes its time, but it knows where it's going, and it's very good.

McCrory and Oudghiri are brilliant - they've a good chemistry,

This is director Katarzyna Klimkiewicz' first feature, and it's a promising debut. There's been praise for the clean composition, but what's particularly telling is the blurring of order and disorder - the "clean air" above the boundary layer, the turbulence below - it's there in sets, actions, performances, and in combination it's uplifting.

What begins as a conventional story of a teacher-student relationship soon morphs into a thought-provoking political drama in Flying Blind, the intelligently written, expertly directed debut film from Katarzyna Klimkiewicz.

Katarzyna Klimkiewicz’s film slowly transforms from a sensual erotic romance exploring the relationship shared between the two protagonists into a politically charged drama that instead explores the relationship ‘White Britain’ has with ‘Islamic Britain’

The director’s biggest success come in the moments that she manages to put us into the shoes of her protagonist; making us share her fear that Kahil is in fact posing as a terrorist. It’s in these scenes that Flying Blind forces us to stop judging Frankie’s actions and reflect on our own similar prejudices. Much of which is successful because of the McCrory’s stunning performance that it is so human and honest it often becomes impossible to not relate to her distrust.

Flying Blind is an intelligent, timely study of Britain’s paranoid relationship with Islam that in spite of its intimacy and simplicity leaves much reflect on. All of which makes for a surprising debut film that greatly defies expectation.


birds eye view

Another highlight of the festival was Katarzyna Klimkiewicz’s Flying Blind (2012), starring Helen McCrory and Najib Oudghiri. This erotic thriller follows Frankie (McCrory), a successful forty-something currently working in the aerospace industry. After becoming romantically involved with Kahil (Oudghiri), a French/Algerian student twenty years her junior, Frankie’s career comes under threat when colleagues begin to question Kahil’s motives. Flying Blind continuously wrenches the viewer back and forth, from distrusting the validity of the relationship to believing in it wholeheartedly. A master class in audience manipulation, Flying Blind is a well-executed and engaging thriller which is extremely relevant to the current political climate.