Film: Penetrating and dogmatic

Written By: Rita Di Santo
Published: December 20, 2016 Last modified: December 20, 2016


Dir: Clint Eastwood

The sensational tale of how Captain Chesley Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River after losing both jets engines in a bird strike has become a vicious, blunt, troubled and penetratingly dogmatic film.

Clint Eastwood opens the film with a nightmarish counterfactual vision. Captain Chesley B “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) – heard in voiceover on his headset – fails catastrophically to land the plane. A shocking hallucination, we learn, Sully experiences frequently as post–traumatic stress.  This is not the heroic life the media wanted to show.

Sully is a movie of a self-doubt and manic, persistent subjectivity. Eastwood approaches the events with a personal, passionate, artificial freedom, venturing inside Sully’s consciousness more than the real events.  It is introspective but quite man-focused as so many of Eastwood’s movies are: agonisng about responsibility and how to do the right thing at the right time.  Sully in his approach to his job and his duty as husband citizen or pilot suggests none other than the director himself. As if Clint made him his alter-ego, a role model of how to save the day and the world.

It is a sad surprise that commenting on Donald Trump, Eastwood declared: “He’s said a lot of dumb things. But the press and everybody’s going: ‘Oh, well, that’s racist,’ and they’re making a big hoodoo out of it. Just fucking get over it. It’s a sad time in history.”

If we really want to know the true story of US Airways Flight 1549, there have been better television shows and documentaries on the subject, maybe less entertaining but surely adhering more closely to the real events.