"Winter Flight" (at Beverly Center Cineplex) plays like a British "Officer and a Gentleman" stripped of glamour.
But the appealing modesty of this final offering in David Puttnam's "First Love" series is blasted by a final surprise twist--a twist that merely seems evasive in raising last-minute questions that must go unanswered for lack of time. Although the ending is not quite telegraphed by director Roy Battersby and writer Alan Janes, don't be surprised if you guess it.
At a Royal Air Force base near Cambridge arrives a newcomer (played winningly by Reece Dinsdale) who could scarcely be wetter behind the ears. The kid actually takes an encyclopedia with him to a rough bar on a Saturday night, an act that results in a brutal, humiliating hazing. This sequence unfolds with a slow, casual violence absolutely chilling in its utter believability, laying bare in all its savagery the bully mentality with its fear and hatred of knowledge and learning.
One of the witnesses to the beating is a pretty barmaid (Nicola Cowper) who takes a liking to the unprepossessing but sensitive Dinsdale. She's already pregnant when she meets Dinsdale, but for reasons never explained--another evasion--has allowed too much time to pass for an abortion. The crux of the matter becomes her determination to put the baby up for adoption regardless of Dinsdale's eagerness to marry her and claim the child as his own.