Some clever stunt-casting aside, Airplane Mode (Netflix) is a predictable rom-com about the most insufferable underside of contemporary culture.
I feel old. And a part of feeling old, as I’ve unenthusiastically discovered recently, is irrationally despising newfangled modern trends. Among those trends are social media “influencers”, a term which I’m still not sure I understand in context. Who is being influenced, what are they being influenced towards, and how is the so-called influencer doing any influencing besides being hot and rich? It’s a mystery to me. But it isn’t a mystery to Brazilian celebrity Larissa Manoela, an actor, singer, and Instagram mega-star who fronts the new rom-com Airplane Mode (Netflix) as basically herself. It’s about what you’d expect.
Here, Manoela plays Ana, an influencer so addicted to her phone that she’s liable to text and drive until she crashes and almost kills herself. As everyone knows, there’s only one cure for digital influencing addiction, and it’s being banished to the rural farm of grandfather Germano (Erasmo Carlos) as punishment. No phone, no social media, manual tasks to fill the day with — is Ana about to discover that there’s more to life than beach selfies and arbitrary “likes”? Is she about to discover that there’s a real-life relationship to be had with humble blue-collar João (André Luiz Frambach)? You bet she is!
Ugh. Airplane Mode is directed by César Rodrigues and written by Renato Fagundes and Alice Name-Bomtempo, adapted from a Mexican script by Alberto Bremer, and nowhere in all of that creative cross-pollination is there an original idea. All of this is predictable and most of it is grating, though a part of that might be my age and sensibility talking. But highlights are hard to come by here; a dyed-in-the-wool performance from Erasmo Carlos helps to center things, but they’re centered on an obvious point: When you look up from your phone, who knows what you might see? Hopefully not this film.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.