Thursday, October 22, 2020

Don't Read This on a Plane: Movie Review

Slow moving and bizarrely plotted, but Jovana has her charms.
Don’t Read This on a Plane borrows its title from the book at the center of the film. And yes, it is named that for a reason. The protagonist is Jovana (Sophie Desmerais) this is her third novel, but her publisher has abruptly gone bankrupt and left her stranded on her book tour. This is very slow, and very bizarrely plotted, but builds to a strangely satisfying story.   2020

Directed by: Stuart McBratney

Screenplay by: Stuart McBratney

Starring: Sophie Desmerais

The movie is very slow to reveal that it’s about anything more than a hitch-hiking comedy, and I wouldn’t blame anybody who gives up on it long before it gets interesting, and even then “interesting” needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Jovana is broke, she’s a published writer but nothing that brings in money, and her husband’s a cook on an oil rig. The tour has already been booked and the flights paid for in advance, but the hotel rooms have been cancelled. With a sense of nothing else to do, Jovana proceeds on her book tour. Hitchhiking from the airport, finding strangers who will let her crash on their couch, grabbing food at book readings. And the movie spends a long time threatening that there’s nothing else happening. I’m glad I stuck with it, but the movie did itself no favours with plotting this slow. It’s going to have a hard time finding an audience.

First, the book itself appears to be over-written; Jovana loves big words. Then it starts sounding like all segments are porno-esque. That it’s just a raunchy sexcapades novel. Then comes the question, is this autobiographical? At first Jovana dodges the question, but at least the movie has finally revealed something for the audience to latch onto: is Jovana writing a novel solely for the flashy publicity (that title and that subject matter) or is there something more to our protagonist? Jovana claims she’s happily married with a husband who’s gone for half the year, but then what are all the flirtations with women about? In due time, Jovana's relationships and motivations will make sense and tie in very nicely with the film.

As with the premise, each scene takes place in a different location. Some cities had some beautiful exterior shots (like Venice) and other times we had way too many shots of an airplane, but every different European city had its own feel to it which the film did well to establish given the limitations of an indie budget.

Don’t Read This on a Plane is about a bisexual woman trying to find her happiness. I liked the hints at what her relationships are really like, and ultimately what that reveals about her. Her book and that title fit her personality. Sophie Desmerais gives a very good, half-revealed performance. After all, Jovana is a woman who hides behind her words, is living out of a suitcase and never fully reveals herself to anybody. By the end, I felt like I got to know her. Things just clicked and I found her story interesting and strangely comforting. But readers be fully warned, this is a very slow moving character study about a woman with half-relationships.

Similar Titles:

I Used to Go Here (2020) - Relatable, funny and entertaining.

Shiva Baby (2020) - Unique, unnerving, anxiety-ridden comedy.