The Dutch drama Bride Flight aims for a stately, old-Hollywood tone, but it ends up with bland soap opera without much of the liveliness that defined classic melodramas. It starts off promisingly enough, using the real 1953 aviation race from London to Christchurch, New Zealand, as the framework for the story of three Dutch women on their way to meet their fiancés on the other side of the world. While on the plane, shy Ada (Karina Smulders), bubbly Marjorie (Elise Schaap) and brash, sexy Esther (Anna Drijver) meet the hunky Frank (Waldemar Torenstra), who’s also headed to New Zealand for a fresh start.
The zippy historical tale only lasts a short time, though, and then director Ben Sombogaart settles in for the long, slow process of chronicling the characters’ lives over the next decade or so, broken up by present-day scenes at Frank’s funeral (Rutger Hauer gets in about two lines as the older Frank before keeling over). As the women deal with unwanted pregnancies, abusive husbands and dark secrets, the movie plods along at a lethargic pace, with occasional flashes of energy in the performances the only things keeping it afloat. The New Zealand scenery looks lovely, but the story is about as inert as the beautiful verdant landscape.