In his new feature film, Sully, which was released in French theatres on the 30th of November, Clint Eastwood deals with the story of the plane which landed on the Hudson River in New York and made big headlines in 2009. Doing so, he offers us a fascinating and deeply optimistic movie which shows that, sometimes, with a good deal of courage and cohesion, miracles happen.
On the 15th of January 2009, Chesley Sullenberger, nicknamed “Sully”, an experimented and reputed pilot, took control of a US Airways Airbus A320 with 150 passengers and five crew members on board for a flight from New York City to North Carolina. But, shortly after it took off, the plane bumped into a group of migratory birds and lost both its engines. As they cannot go back to the airport and to avoid a crash, Sully and his first officer Jeff Skiles decide to land on the Hudson River and miraculously, there were no casualties.
It is in this incredible and yet true story that Clint Eastwood plunges us with his new movie, two years after the latest film he directed, American Sniper, was released. In Sully, Clint Eastwood’s fans will recognize the main features they loved in his previous movies: a true story centered on a hero who is definitely courageous but, above all, human. So, while he shows both the accident and the inquiry that followed, the filmmaker does not hide the fact that, at some point, Sully (played by Tom Hanks who is pretty convincing) doubted the appropriateness of the decisions he took and that he felt bad because he was, at the same time, seen as an American hero and accused of having been reckless.
An immersion in the world of civil aviation
Nevertheless, beside the psychology of the characters, Clint Eastwood makes a point of describing the facts as they really happened. So, he films the inside of the plane and, in particular, of the cockpit simply and without too many effects. This reminds us of the reconstitutions that illustrate a great number of documentaries about plane crashes. Furthermore, he does not really focus on the passengers’ state of mind and panic. Consequently, Sully is not a disaster movie but a biopic which depicts the events as the captain lived them.
Moreover, Clint Eastwood plunges us in the often idealized and rather mysterious world of civil aviation and presents us the authorities that rule it. So, he details the indispensable inquiry that is conducted after every air crash in order to make sure, as far as possible, that it won’t happen again. Nonetheless, there are not too many technical words so that the film remains simple and straightforward. Therefore, there is no need to be an aviation expert to be able to follow the plotline.
An ode to everyday heroes
In fact, the story is centred on the people. The director focuses especially on the cohesive team formed by Sully and his first officer Jeff Skiles (played by Aaron Eckhart) who remains extremely loyal no matter the difficulties. Clint Eastwood also shows the impact that such extraordinary events can have on the families and relatives of the people involved filming Lorrie (Laura Linney), the captain’s wife, while she has troubles realizing what happened to her husband.
Furthermore, the filmmaker underlines the synergy with which the crew and the emergency services worked in order to help the passengers in record time. Thus, Clint Eastwood, who is a convinced patriot, pays tribute to the people who make sure, day after day, that we live and travel safely and who save lives when there is a problem. So, his movie is deeply optimistic and does not show any political positioning.
Sully, Clint Eastwood, USA, 2016, 1h36, released in the United States of America on the 9th of September 2016, in Lebanon in September 2016 and in France on the 30th of November 2016.