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A Dark Reflection

Director: Tristan Loraine

Cast: Georgina Sutcliffe, Rita Ramnani, Marina Sirtis, Mark Dymond, Nicholas Day

Certificate: 15

Running Time: 102 minutes

Synopsis: After a disastrous shooting in the Middle East, reporter Helen Eastman (Sutcliffe) returns to the UK working for a small local paper. But it isn’t long before she uncovers a story with international implications concerning the safety of passengers and air crew.

Is it possible to be too emotionally invested in the film you are making? Well, if anybody has a cause for being too involved it’s director Tristan Loraine. Once an airline pilot, Loraine lost his medical certificate to fly due to contaminated air on commercial aircraft. He retrained as a film director and released a documentary, WELCOME ABOARD TOXIC AIRLINES, in 2007. Now it’s time to once again to revisit the important issue but now as a dramatised thriller.

The issue at hand involves leakage of synthetic oils into airline engines which then carries harmful gases into cabins and aircraft. It’s criminally underreported and is seemingly covered up by airlines, health and safety regulators, and ignored by the government. It’s a terrifying prospect, and one that recalls the fight against the tobacco industry not so long ago. In fact, A DARK REFLECTION does house many similarities with Michael Mann’s classic, THE INSIDER, even if it does lack the polish.

There’s a lot to commend in A DARK REFLECTION, but most respect must be offered to the film’s passion and sincerity. Funded by airline crews and unions, this isn’t just a film made by someone exploiting a particular topic in the name of entertainment; this is people’s lives. It’s striking and moving, but at the same time you have to wonder if everybody is too closely involved. Even the production company is named Fact Not Fiction Film Productions, and some of the dialogue comes dangerously close to unintentionally funny PSA material.

It’s a good job then that the cast keep the film going, and although many have habits from British TV and soap operas that don’t translate well onto the big screen, they have enough conviction to carry the material forward. It’s a fascinating story and one that could easily be improved on by the right writer, director, and cast. The film itself seems to acknowledge that it isn’t in the same league as other thrillers, as we see many set-ups with no payoffs, such as a character getting into a car and hesitatingly turning the ignition, obviously assuming they are in Hollywood territory when it comes to conspiracy theories. Although A DARK REFLECTION would rather fight battles with its words, it also wants to create a sense of dread where there needn’t be any.

A DARK REFLECTION lacks the execution to make it a truly unmissable feature, but its message is certainly one not to be ignored. Its greatest asset is creating a modern business focused horror movie in which lives and health are seen as expendable when weighed against profit margins. There is a lot of tension, and if everything teh film presents is true, then this is appalling and unbelievable. Probably more suited to TV than the cinema (it would certainly reach a wider audience), Loraine’s passion and determination mean this will thankfully not be ignored which will hopefully result in change, which is more than many films can achieve.

[usr=3] A DARK REFLECTION is released in select cinemas from 27th February.