Posted: 05/25/2005

 

Air Hostess

(1959)

by Rory L. Aronsky



See the sights, but don’t expect much. From HKFlix.com.


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“Air Hostess” exists squarely to push those exact buttons that make for fluffy entertainment. The right archetypes make up the landscape at International Airlines, seeking to hire air hostesses that will do well by the company standards, which include working quickly in small spaces, smiling at proper moments, never taking up too much conversation with the passengers but only enough to provide requested service, and knowing that when in uniform, you are still under the jurisdiction of the company enough to continue acting by their standards. Funny how there’s no manual for dealing with fake jewelry sellers or asshole pilots.

The archetypes are well laid out in the waiting room and classroom of the airline. Lin Keping (Grace Chang) is the star flight attendant, determined to make something out of her work not only to be satisfied that she’s done something with her life that extended outside of school, but also to deflect the insisting thought by her mother that she should be married and happy in that regard to be a housewife. The mother isn’t pushy or demanding, just going by what she knew in her lifetime. Chen Huan (Feng Su) is the shy girl, making anyone wonder why in the heck she’d apply for a job as an air hostess. She always keeps her head down, not really saying much, though it’s a relief she’s never seen operating on board any flight. Then, typically enough, there’s the primadonna of the air, the one who walks with an air that says, “I aim to be better than everyone else but due to my attitude and contempt toward those below me, I never get every single question or training function right. However, I do reserve the right to ignore this in favor of my desire to rule over everyone, even going so far as to belittle the shy one because she’s less than me.” This is Zhu Xinjuan (Julie Yeh Feng), so much an obvious soul that she even buys the same earrings as Lin just to look as impressive as her so she can leapfrog over her in flight attendant status.

But Lin presses on and so does the movie. There are introductions to the aircraft, training, and soon, the very first flights. Somehow within these flights, they manage to get the most one-dimensional passengers on the continent, much like themselves. As shallow as Zhu is, so is a horny male passenger trying to talk up Lin, and then there’s the woman who’s deathly afraid of flying and wants a flight attendant on her arm every single minute. Meanwhile, first officer Lei Daying (Roy Chiao) is so into his job that he snaps at Lin about procedure, but soon, they get along better off the plane than on it. There’s much color aboard this movie, songs to showcase Grace Chang’s voice and scenery of Taipei, Singapore, and Hong Kong to please explorative eyes. The one-dimensionality of many of the characters is just as such in order to keep Chang as the star of the movie, never allowing anyone to overshadow her, never letting her falter. She’s determined, she’s there, she’s ready to make the airline look as great as it can in a DC-3. But it becomes exhausting in its confused fake jewelry plot, more songs than are needed, and little tolerance for those who work with Lin on the plane. Predictably, Zhu reports to the boss of the flight attendants as to Lin’s activities such as spending time with Lei while in uniform, as a way to try to knock her out of favor with the airline and put herself in that favor.

“Air Hostess” winds up being a pedestrian journey, with characters that ‘t have much watchability, like songs without notes that get the brain going. Lin is a fine female figure in her desire to make good of herself, but it’s not entirely fun.

Rory L. Aronsky is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and also writes for Film Threat.



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