Picks and Pans Review: Fly Away Home
Seventeen years ago director Carroll Ballard and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel teamed up for The Black Stallion, an uncommonly polished family film. They've collaborated again on Fly Away Home, which is about a girl and a flock of Canada geese instead of a boy and a horse. It's even better.
Paquin (The Piano), reunited with her estranged father (Daniels) in rural Ontario after the death of her mother, becomes Mama to a gaggle of goslings made orphans by a destructive construction crew. The hatchlings open their eyes and instinctively follow Paquin wherever she goes. But, wingless, she can't fulfill a mother goose's key role: leading her offspring on their first migratory journey south for the winter. Paquin and Daniels, an amateur pilot, decide to lead an aerial expedition, V-shaped bird formation in tow, to a wildlife sanctuary in North Carolina.
It occurs to me that this girl could have saved a lot of time and effort by packing the geese in ventilated crates and busing them. But then we wouldn't have the movie, with its dazzling photography, Paquin's sweet, unsentimental performance and, of course, the geese. They're adorable when they waddle in the tall grass, and beautiful when they fly. (PG)