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Review: The Aviation Cocktail


It’s hard to tell what to expect going into The Aviation Cocktail.The film’s trailer touts a tantalising 1950’s small-town familial set-up (“One part passion, two parts betrayal and a splash of blood”), laying out a dramatic tale of broken friendships and icy love lives; but it’s not exactly telling exactly what the film’s plot is.

But when the film opens with a magnificent aeronautical sequence that exudes tension, yet also calmness, you forget about wanting to delve into plot. The imagery, along with the tone of the opening track, evokes the sombre and awe-inspiring feeling that still warms the stomachs of anyone who has seen The Wind Rises. All The Aviation Cocktail needs is to set the film’s entire plot inside that small, private aircraft and director David R. Higgins would have a hit on his hands. Alas, the plane touches down and pilot, Jack Fisher (Michael Haskins) exits in search of the plot.

It turns out that Jack has been called to a barn where he joins his brother Henry (Beau Kiger), the town’s Sheriff, and their longtime friend Bob Holloran (Brendan Eaton). The men are joined by a whole team of deputies who are surrounding the suspected serial murderer, Geoff Hadley (Mark Hanson). When Geoff doesn’t want to come quietly Bob, perhaps a little trigger-happy, fires upon the man and the whole squad opens fire too. What ensues from thereon is a dramatic descent into hell for the three main characters, as their involvement in the murder of Hadley is the catalyst that forces their WWII-induced PTSD to take hold and send any semblance of happiness into oblivion.

The Aviation Cocktail has picked up accolades across the globe and for the most part it’s easy to see why: there are great visuals every now and then, alongside some interesting thematic exploration of post-WWII life – but for every great production choice and character moment there are about four others that are DOA. The actors’ ranges are evidently there as, during select moments in the film, they all own the screen, but at other times it’s hard to believe we’re not watching a student film thanks to some weak camera angling and sound production.

And whilst the film’s pacing and dialogue feels like it could be polished, Higgins’ foundational themes are solid. It’s easy to forget how the men – and indeed women (Leah Lockhart and Katie Bevard have some great character moments) – were affected in their post-War lives as they tried to get on with raising families and chasing careers. Higgins’ script knocks at the door of some interesting demons for his varied characters to explore but we’re not exactly invited inside and given a good look at them.

Easily the best selling point is The Aviation Cocktail’s soundtrack, by Wilson Helmericks and featuringSnake Rattle Rattle Snake. The film’s Lana Del Ray-meets-Daughter compositions and arrangements set the varying moods perfectly and it – whilst not unfalteringly cathartic – is definitely worth checking out whether you manage to see the film or not.

Unfortunately, aside from the introduction of some great ideas as well as some excellent cinematography and musical stylings, The Aviation Cocktail didn’t soar as well as it should have – but definitely keep your eyes open for whatever any of those involved are up to next.

The Aviation Cocktail is out on iTunes and other VOD platforms from 11/11/14.

Find out more information about The Aviation Cocktail here and listen to and buy the OST here.


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