Georgina Sutcliffe plays Helen Eastman, an investigative journalist who returns to the UK following a tragic end to an assignment she was working on in the Middle East. Now taking a job at a local newspaper, ideally situated near her partner Joe (TJ Herbert), alongside her colleague Natasha (Rita Ramnani) the pair pursue a new case together. They’re focused on passenger safety when boarding an aircraft, suspecting JASP Air to be breaking aviation regulations. So they decide to get under the airline’s skin and to the bottom an otherwise unreported issue, while the company’s owner Charles Jaspar (Nicholas Day) does all he can to stop them in their tracks and hide this story from the press.
Of course, as so many of us fly abroad, this is an issue that affects us, so it’s disappointing that Loraine has presented a tale that is so emotionally detached. The content itself may not lend itself to a big screen endeavour, but if the storytelling is of a higher standard, that can be deemed an unnecessary point. Take Chinatown, for instance, a film that chronicles a private reporter also falling in to a web of corruption and deceit, and yet such is the accomplished nature of the filmmaking, it creates a breathtakingly good noir.
Part of the reason A Dark Reflection suffers is because we’re dealing too too many characters. We are supposed to become immersed in a host of people’s lives, and it’s somewhat overwhelming, meaning that the core tales are compromised. That being said, the structure of this tale is well-crafted, as we meet all of the potential components to this story – the journalists, the victims, the CEO, all introduced early on, before we quite understand what is truly going on behind the scenes, meaning that by the time we do gather a greater understanding of the narrative, a broad, clear picture has been painted for us. Sadly the acting lets this production down, detracting from the ambitious nature of the filmmakers. It’s rare to see a conspiracy thriller on such a low budget, but the acting serves as an unfortunate reminder that it that’s exactly what we’re dealing with.
The film is also wildly inconclusive, with an ending that feels incomplete. Given this is focusing on an unresolved, real life issue, you do question whether it was worth chronicling on film. For a film of this ilk, where our entry point is an investigative journalist, everything points to a feature that is building towards a grand finale, with answers to our several questions. However we’re left wanting in that regard, as you contemplate whether this particular story may have been better served as a documentary rather than a mediocre, dramatic endeavour.