Don’t Read This on a Plane Image

Jovana (Sophie Desmarais) is an up-and-coming writer whose entire livelihood rides on the success of her new book Don’t Read This on a Plane. As if touring the world and promoting her work isn’t difficult enough, Jovana’s flights have been canceled as her publicist has recently gone bankrupt. Jovana’s life has just become much more difficult, but no worries, there’s an app for that. Mattress on the Floor, or MOAF, is an app that allows its members to stay in strangers’ homes on the floor, hammock, bed, etc., in exchange for payment. With a plan now in place, Jovana must hitchhike her way around the world in order to save her book and her life.

Don’t Read This on a Plane lacks the necessary vigor as a story to compel viewers to stick around from beginning to end. Jovana’s entire story moves at such a slow rate that, from time to time, it feels like a chore to even care about what is taking place. However, as the narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that writer-director Stuart McBratney possesses the ability to reach his viewers and be endearing.

As previously mentioned, the title Don’t Read This on a Plane is also the title of Jovana’s newly released novel. Jovana’s book is read, in pieces, throughout the course of the film, inviting viewers into a story within a story. While the film itself is a bit daunting, Jovana’s fictional tale is brilliant. It’s beautifully written, existentially enthralling, and full of metaphors that force viewers to question their own realities. Even considering how enticing Jovana’s book is, there is an aspect of this piece of the film that still disappoints.

“…Jovana’s flights have been canceled as her publicist has recently gone bankrupt.”

The big letdown about this aspect of Don’t Read This on a Plane is that viewers become aware of the fact that McBratney has the ability to write eloquent stories and entice those watching the film. As Jovana’s book is expressed, piece by piece, audience members are attracted more and more to her, but not the film. Both the story of the film and the book feel like separate entities, pushing viewers further from the film.

The saving grace of Don’t Read This on a Plane is Sophie Desmarais. She’s jaunty, attractive, and elegantly intriguing. As Jovana navigates the globe on her book tour and expresses the thoughts and feelings present in her book, viewers fall in love with her. A thanks to the casting department is most certainly in order because without their help, Don’t Read This on a Plane would most certainly fail.

As Desmarais acts as the glue keeping Stuart McBratney’s work together, it seems apparent that much of Don’t Read This on a Plane fails to produce emotion and humor in the fashion that the filmmaker had hoped. Monotony, simplicity, and a lack of gusto lead audiences through an incredibly boring journey that fails, in most facets, to entertain. Don’t Read This on a Plane truly falls short of expectations, but Desmarais is one of a kind and does enough to make said journey worthwhile.

Don't Read This on a Plane (2020)

Directed and Written: Stuart McBratney

Starring: Sophie Desmarais, Dorotheea Petre, Nicolas Bravos, Victor von Schirach, Susanna Dekker, Dominique Thomas, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

Don't Read This on a Plane Image

"…Desmarais acts as the glue keeping Stuart McBratney's work together..."

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