Charlie Victor Romeo

8 Overall Score
Acting: 9/10
Editing: 8/10
Set: 7/10

The acting was solid

You might not fly for a while

Charlie Victor Romeo (2013)

 Dir: Robert Berger, Patrick Daniels, Karlyn Michelson

Noel Dinneen, Irving Gregory, Nora Woolley, Debbie Troche, Robert Berger, Patrick Daniels


An experimental documentary built entirely around reenactments, with a simple set up and dialogue taken from actual black-box recordings, Charlie Victor Romeo manages to evoke a great deal of panic and anxiety.

The film places the viewer inside the cockpit of several different flights, all of which experience an emergency. Commercial flights full of passengers, and an Air Force plane leaving base are represented using the same set up and the same rotation of actors. The occasional obscured close-up of an air traffic controller or flight attendant breaks up the basic three-point camera, and the dialogue is littered with technical jargon and profanity. Each incident is established with a date, flight number, the number of crew and passengers, and blue prints that hint at the coming scene. The action plays out like a theatre production, which is fitting because the film is based on a production of the same name. But this helps fuel the panic. The viewer never sees the passenger’s cabin, or the coming danger outside of the cockpit. Instead our attention is focused on the two or three people in guiding the plane, and their reactions to what is occurring.

It’s unusual for reenactments to work as well as they did in this film. Maybe it’s a morbid fascination that we all inherently have. The first scene does a great job of getting you invested in the rest of the film. It opens with some banter between pilots and routine check-ins with the air traffic controllers at Bradley Airport in Connecticut, allowing for the inevitable emergency to sneak-up on the viewer. The subsequent scenes all follow a similar pattern, sometimes forgoing the banter and putting the viewer in the middle of the emergency. But this never feels stale, instead it adds to the anticipation and anxiety.  It also helps that these were legitimate emergencies that occurred, and the empathy you might feel during the title cards at the end of each scene, speaks to more than what the film was able to evoke.

All in all this was an interesting film to watch. As simple and as short-lived, as some of these scenes are, the drama that unfolds is truly engaging. A lot of credit has to be given to these actors who seamlessly carried this film.

My only recommendation is to give yourself time before your next flight after viewing this.



Author: Dan Folgar View all posts by
Dan Folgar received a degree in Cinema Studies from the University of Central Florida in 2008, and is currently working on an MFA in Fine Arts. He is an avid film watcher and an enthusiast who is prone to ranting. Follow on twitter @grim842.

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