- 03 Jun 11
Irish community-based comedy is a warm-hearted feelgood family movie
"Kind of inspired by a true story”, The Runway is the tale of a South American pilot whose plane crashed outside a sleepy Cork village in 1983, and of the community that came together to build a runway so that he could get home. It’s the feelgood stuff that directors dream of, and Ian Power’s directorial debut has a broad, gentle appeal that will please all.
Lonely schoolboy Paco (Jamie Kierans) is something of a dreamer, fantasising that his absentee father is living an adventurous life in Spain. His mother Grace (Kerry Condon) doesn’t have the heart to tell him otherwise, and so lets him listen to instructional Spanish language tapes as he goes to sleep.
So when Colombian Ernesto (Demien Bichir) crashes, Paco becomes the official translator to the mysterious visitor. He concocts a wild sob story, transforming Ernesto into a hero who must return home to save his ailing village, when the pilot’s true story may be a whole lot less wholesome.
Ernesto and Paco’s relationship is an endearing one that grows more complex as these two isolated characters find solace in each other, with Ernesto becoming almost like an ET-style father figure. Paco’s not-always-accidental misinterpretations of Ernesto provide much of the film’s humour, as do the outrageous antics of the townsfolk and Paco’s Traveller friend, Frogs (the hilarious John Carpenter).
Gorgeously shot with filtered lenses, The Runway’s old-fashioned appearance evokes the era beautifully, and Kierans is an irresistibly cheeky and likeable lead. Overall, The Runway is undeniably lovely and warm-hearted. But the community-spirit centred plot feels too much like The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill And Came Down A Mountain – not one of Hugh Grants’s finest moments. Next time out, it’d be great to see Powers tackle something with more edge.