Anybody interested in a multilingual version of the sort of women’s picture that might have been made by Douglas Sirk in the 1950s is directed to this Dutch soap opera that spans half a century in depicting the lives—and especially the romances, happy and not—of three friends who meet by chance in 1953 and come together for a funeral some fifty years later.
The title comes from a Dutch plane that wins an air race from London to New Zealand; among the passengers were many women travelling to be with their fiances. Three are brought into the spotlight: Ada (Karina Smulders), a shy sort set to marry the highly religious Hans (Micha Hulshof), who meets her at the airport with his minister in tow; Esther (Anna Drijver), a glamorous fashion designer who winds up on her own when her intended proves a prig; and Marjorie (Elise Schapp), who looks forward to married life and children. All are impressed by another of the passengers, handsome Frank (Waldemar Torenstra), a good-natured fellow who intends to get a ranch, and though eyed by Esther looks lovingly at Ada instead.
The narrative is largely drawn from two bases: Ada’s suffocating marriage on the one hand, and a complicated situation that arises when Marjorie suffers a miscarriage that precludes her having the children she so desperately wants and Esther’s unexpected pregnancy.
These period stories are intercut with the much later one that arises when the trio—now played by Willeke van Ammelrooy (Esther), Petra Laseur (Marjorie) and Pleuni Touw (Ada)—meet for the funeral of Frank (a cameo by Rutger Hauer). It wouldn’t be fair to reveal precisely how their lives have become inextricably entwined by this time; suffice it to say that the interrelationships have the appropriately sudsy elements.
There’s a distinctly old-fashioned feel to this glossy feminist melodrama, which could justly be described as Ross Hunter Reborn. To be sure, it’s done up with a certain panache by screenwriter Marieke van der Pol, director Ben Sombogaart and the cast (with Smulders the standout among the women and Torenstra a real heartthrob), while editor Herman Koert manages the keep the complicated plot strands clear.
But ultimately “Bride Flight” can’t escape its roots. Deep down it’s little more than Nicholas Sparks stuff with an accent, which will be a recommendation to some but anathema to many.