(director: Christopher Ashley; screenwriters: David Hein, Irene Sankoff; cinematographer: Tobias A. Schliessler; music:David Hein/ Irene Sankoff; cast: Petrina Bromley (Bonnie), Jenn Colella (Annette, Beverley Bass and others), De’Lon Grant (Bob ), Joel Hatch (Claude), Tony LePage (Kevin T.), Q. Smith (Hannah), Caesar Samayoa (Kevin), Astrid Van Wieren (Beulah), Emily Walton (Janice ), Jim Walton (Nick), Sharon Wheatley (Diane), Paul Whitty (Oz); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: NR; producers; Bill Condon, Mark Gordon, Nick Meyer, Jennifer Todd: Apple+ TV; 2021)

A heartwarming musical.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A heartwarming musical shot in May 2021. It’s a  film that acts as a document of a stage musical, as it’s played out on a bare stage. Gloriously directed by Tony Award-winning filmmaker Christopher Ashley (“Lucky Stiff”/”Jeffrey”), who also directed the stage version. Ashley films the popular live Broadway stage recording of the Canadians Irene Sankoff and David Hein’s 2017 musical that was intended to be a musical film to be released in time for the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in September 2021. But COVID-19 made it change formats.

Come From Away refreshingly brings us the experiences of the kind folks
of Gander, Newfoundland (population: 11,000), and how they responded in a helpful manner to the many grounded planes landing there as the world tuned into what was happening on 9/11 in the United States.

Gander International Airport saw nearly 40 planes land, many were jumbo-jets, and about 7,000 stranded passengers were given shelter, food and essential care while waiting for flights in due time for them to continue on with their journeys.

A lively ensemble cast of 12 play the roles of the locals–from mayor to journalist to teacher — and also those of the stranded passengers. It also shows how anxious some of the travelers were, such as the frantic mom who had no news of her son who was at Ground Zero.

What shines in this inspirational tribute film is the glowing spirit of generosity shown by the Canadian citizens of the host country, which in the face of such a tragedy caused by evil extremists, goodness is expressed by acts of kindness by the ordinary local Canadians. Their warmth to strangers from all over the world in a time of need should restore one’s faith in the possibility of goodness in humanity.

The song that hit it out of the park was performed by the American actress and singer
Jenn Colella, the beautiful ballad of “Me and the Sky.” Jenn plays Beverly Bass, a pilot for one of the flights rerouted to Gander that day. In real-life, Jenn was not only an actual American pilot and first female captain of an American Airlines commercial plane, but one of the pilots who flew into Gander on 9 September 2001 and got stuck there.

Other songs include:
Welcome To The Rock. 38 Planes. Blankets And Bedding. 28 Hours / Wherever We Are. Darkness And Trees. On The Bus. Darkness And Trees (Reprise), Lead Us Out Of The Night. Phoning Home. Costume Party.

Though not really a top-notch musical, it’s an entertaining film, has plenty of pep and has enough good reasons to attract an audience. 

REVIEWED ON 12/11/2021  GRADE: B