Diverted is an interesting delve into how people deal with actually narrowly missing a huge disaster and the effect it has on their lives afterwards. It’s generally well acted and quite thought-provoking at times, although the mellow drama of some stories detracts from its overall message.
The Disasters Faced
A diverted plane! (Albeit avoiding the 9/11 attacks)
When 9/11 took place, thousands of planes were grounded quickly and international flights didn’t necessarily get into America. In Gander, Newfoundland Canada, a small town with an airport took in many aircraft and were left with 6,600 stranded passengers for several days. This is a fictional story set in the real world event, telling the lives and issues of 8-10 passengers of a jet alongside some key people in the organisation and logistics of dealing with such a task. Having felt like they’ve had a near miss with disaster, different people cope with it in different ways and with a multi-cultural passenger list, tempers also fray.
Why It’s Worth Watching
Diverted is a TV movie and they live and die on the acting and script. For the vast majority of the film, the acting is very good and quite understated. Shawn Ashmore and Liisa Repo-Martell do excellent jobs as they rally around to help their passengers through the ordeal and easily out-do David Suchet who’s American accent seems to change location from scene to scene, making his already confrontational character quite difficult to wrestle with.
Diverted is a drama, but it’s also quite matter of fact. The people of Gander just get on with it because they have to and want to. Whilst I’d have liked some more insight into the logistical side of things, the sleeves-up-and-carry-on nature of the town is the quiet pulse under the movie. It’s quietly heartening that a movie wants to highlight that actually sometimes just helping out a neighbour in need is something we can and will do en mass.
The movie itself is far more interested in the post-shock of a huge event though. Some people feel guilty for finding goodness in a bad situation. We also have a slightly awkward younger romance which is by the numbers which covers up the fact that it is dealing with someone actually now in two minds as to whether to continue their journey to New York or not. When it is dealt with, its dealt with carefully and respectfully.
Where Diverted perhaps fumbles is when it wants to tackle some of the more complex issues. There is a fascinating subplot between two Muslim men. One feels like he needs to distance himself from the other to show how American he is and it’s one of the few times I’ve seen this topic approached. I’d have liked to see a proper conclusion to it because it gets lost in the more mellow-dramatic plots instead. If anything, it shows that this film probably needed another 10 minutes of screen time to wrap things up properly and provide closure to the journey of each character.
Initially, I didn’t spot any, but having now watched it on a bigger screen you can see how blue-screened in some of the radio tower sections are. There are a few nice crowd shots too, but there are no set pieces in this character-driven movie.
I’ve mentioned it earlier but the characters from Gander are all can-do people and excel in their matter of fact attitude and acting approach. The passengers are more of a mixed bag. Marion (Joanne Whalley), who has a complete humbleness about the whole experience throughout, would instantly be the best person to sit with during a disaster! Her awkward beginnings of a romance with Andrew (Colin Buchannan) are so English it is superb. Less believable is the other main romance between Alia and Mike, both seem to be in instant flirt mode from the get-go. What was the plane pumping into the air con?! Elsewhere almost every other character is universally nice aside from Suchet who is given the tycoon twat role. There are some really interesting scenes where his character slowly shows a much more human side to him and he really has the most tragic storyline of the whole lot as he finds out his son was in one of the towers.
“They rescued us… can we not rescue each other?” – Andrew
Three Memorable Moments
- The school gym bedroom overhead shot to show all the passengers sleeping arrangements.
- All the queues outside houses for people to let them use their showers
- Marion’s outburst for humility and respect
The Obligatory Weird Moment…
Towards the end, Gander holds a little party to say goodbye to everyone and they produce a fish to be kissed as part of a ritual. I thought initially this was just a mickey-take but people in the comments have confirmed that this is a year thing. The fish would be the last cast member I’d want to smooch!
The Drinking Game
There are a lot of pensive looks during such a short movie. Also apparently the neighbouring town, which is referred to as Glendale is actually called Glenwood in real life. No idea if that was an intentional change but has a sip for each mention too.
As a TV movie about a real-life tragedy that it does not show except for very short TV images, Diverted holds its own as a quiet and introspective movie about dealing with what happens when all is done and dusted and you need to pick up your life and get going again. For that, it’s quite different to most disaster movies and therefore deserves a special mention.
Rating: 3/5 (Good)
If you liked Diverted then you may like…
- Fearless (for a much more detailed look at survivors guilt and PTSD from a disaster)
- Sully: Miracle on the Hudson (for another feel-good disaster movie
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