For the Moment (1993)
Director: Aaron Kim Johnston.
Starring: Russell Crowe (Lachlan), Christianne Hirt (Lill), Wanda Cannon (Betsy), Scott Kraft (Zeek), Peter Outerbridge (Johnny), Sara McMillan (Kate), Bruce Boa (Mr. Anderson), Katelynd Johnston (Marion), Tyler Woods (Charlie), John Bekavac (Dipper), Robert G. Slade (Scotty), Kelly Proctor (Dennis), Roxanne Boulianne (Anne), David Warburton (Commander Levin), Ari Cohen (Cecil).
love story set against the nearly 100 air bases created across Canada (as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Program to get more pilots)
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Two student pilots, Jonathan and Lachlan, fly a two-seater biplane over Canada. Johnnyís folks call his girlfriend Kate to tell her that Johnny is coming her way for a short visit. Kate drives over to tell her little sister Lill about Johnny coming. Lill drives a tractor on the farm. She tells Kate to hop on and they work their way home. Johnny lands the plane on the farm.
Manitoba 1942. Johnny jumps out and runs to kiss his girl Kate. He introduces Lachlan to Kate. Lachlan is an Australian. And the other girl is her sister Lill.
Flight training school. Since the war was declared the Commonwealth Air Training Plan has established dozens of training installations across Canada. To them have come the cream of British and American youth. In addition, they have Free French, Norwegians, Poles, Czechs, Dutch and Belgian trainees.
Kate and Lill dance in the dining room. Their brother Dennis wants to go out dancing with his sisters before he has to start his term of service. But Lill doesnít want to go dancing.
Johnny and Lachlan report back to their barracks. A student named Richard lays in bed with an older woman named Betsy. Lachlan asks Johnny if Lill has been married long? Frank got his positing overseas about two years ago as a pilot in Bomber Command. He and Lill tied the knot a week before he left. Johnny and Lachlan take a ride back out to the farm. Richard gets dressed and gets back in his plane to fly back to the air base. Johnny and Lachlan almost run into his plane as he heads for the road.
Kate and Lill finish putting on their make-up. The guys pick them up and go into town. A bus pulls up to the dance hall and lets out a lot of young ladies going to the dance. Betsy is also at the dance. She comes over to Lachlan and they dance together. Kate and Lillís sister-in-law Anne trades barbs with Betsy and Betsy comes out the winner. Outside three white guys are beating up a black cadet. They are probably American southerners who are offended by a black man dancing with a white woman. Johnny and Lachlan stop them. A fellow named Zeek comes over and hits the ring-leader southerner in the stomach and he goes down. Lill asks Lachlan to dance and he accepts.
Back at the farm Lill says she had a wonderful night. Johnny thanks Lill for coming. Lachlan takes a walk on the road. He tells Lill that he enjoyed himself. Itís daylight by the time Johnny picks up Lachlan on the road. Johnny tells his buddy that he and Kate are getting married.
Zeek turns out to be one of the cadetsí instructors. He tells the men that he has had two tours of duty with Bomber Command. Kate and Lill along with their dad are down at the railway station to see Dennis off.
Lachlan gets on a motorcycle and goes out to see Lill working in the fields. He gives her a ride on his cycle. They sit overlooking a pretty creek bed below. He recites to her the one poem he knows and then they kiss.
Back at the barracks Lachlan is in good spirits. He attributes it to meeting Lill. Zeek also notices the Aussie has been feeling good. Back at the barracks Lachlan sees two of his comrades coming out of the same shower together.
Lachlan uses his airplane to see Lill again out with her tractor. Johnny asks Lachlan if he wants to go with him to visit Kate and Lill. He passes on this. Instead, he goes to visit Betsy asking if they could conduct a little business? The next morning Besty brings breakfast out to Zeek who stayed the night with her.
Kate goes with her dad and Johnny to town to do some shopping. Kate stays behind. After they leave she rushes upstairs to put on some nice clothes. Lachlan waits until the car passes by him and then takes off over to Kateís place. Zeek asks Betsy to marry him. She tells him she is a woman with a past. Lachlan arrives to take Lill to the lake beach. They run into the water and play around.
Zeek, Betsy and Betsyís daughter go out shopping. They run into the three southern rednecks who decide to embarrass Zeek with Betsy. Lachlan tells Betsy that life is a collection of moments. She reminds him that she is married and he is going off to war. A storm comes up suddenly and they have to make a run for it. All wet, they get home by night time. Inside the house they kiss again. They go to bed together.
The three rednecks pay a visit to Betsy. She protects herself by grabbing her shotgun. She forces the guys to pay for their drinks and then leave. She also tells them that she will tell Zeek they came out to pay her a visit.
An airman gets a Dear John letter and takes off in one of the student aircraft. Lachlan tries to stop him but the dejected man is determined not to be stopped. The man buzzes the airfield a number of times. Lachlan speaks with him via radio communication, but he canít stop him. The fellow crashes his plane and it explodes.
Lill goes out horseback riding again. She rides up to the place where Lachlan is. Back home Lill helps her sister with the wash. A military man pulls up in a black sedan. He has a telegram with him. He comes up to Lill to inform her that someone in her family has died. She walks over to her family and falls to her knees. Dad and Kate come running over to her and hear the bad news. Lachlan waits outside the church during the funeral. Lill sees Lachlan there but does not acknowledge him. Lachlan goes to the house following the funeral where there are lots of friends of the family. Lill comes out but she still doesnít acknowledge Lachlan.
Lachlan comes over to her and says heís sorry. She says that when the man came up to her she didnít know if it was about husband Frank or brother Dennis. She found herself wishing it was Frank, so her brother would be alive and she still would have Lachlan for awhile. She wonders what kind of woman is she? She says itís so unfair. Dennis only lasted a week. And now she says she canít see Lachlan anymore because itís too difficult and itís too confusing. She says maybe she is just like the men quick to go to war for the adventure and excitement. She tells Lachlan that was all he was to her. He says he did get to know a part of her and that person he really cares for, so donít be too hard on her. He will always love that girl that he met in her.
Anne, Lillís mean sister-in-law, comes over to mock the couple. Lill tries to tell her it isnít what she thinks it is, but Anne is not listening and leaves. Lill tells Lachlan to leave her alone. He doesnít belong here. Lachlan tells her he loves her and leaves.
Lill tells her family that she has been seeing Lachlan whenever and wherever she could, but she wonít be seeing him again. Her sister scolds her but Lill can take care of herself verbally and does so. Now she says she is going to write Frank before that little bitch (her sister-in-law) does.
Dad says he feels sorry for Lill. Sheís had to give up a lot already and now she even has to give up more. Indeed, he feels sorry for all of them.
Johnny is very mad at Lachlan. He says Kate called off their wedding because Lachlan took advantage of Lill. Lachlan tells Johnny that the average life expectancy of a bomber pilot is six weeks and the way he flies he figures Johnnyís got only two weeks. So why does he want to turn a poor girl into a widow? Johnny starts sobbing. He does say that Kate told him she will be here for him when he gets back. Lachlan says Johnny is a lucky man. He, on the other hand, is not so lucky. He loves Lill.
Zeek and Nigel go up in one of the airplanes. The left engine starts stalling. The cadets see the plane in trouble and run toward the airfield. The plane crashes. Zeek is alive. Nigelís dead. Zeek is stuck. He tells the cadets to stay away from him because the plane is going to blow. He tells Lachlan to shoot him when the plane explodes. He doesnít want to burn to death. The plane explodes and Lachlan shoots Zeek.
Lachlan rides his motorcycle out to the fields to be alone. Later he comes to see Betsy. She hugs Lachlan as they slowly step around in a circle in a very slow dance. Lill comes to see Betsy and Lachlan. In bed Lachlan is sleeping with his head on her lap. Betsy asks if she wants to wake Lachlan, but Lill says donít wake him until he is across the Atlantic.
The cadets graduate from flight school. Kate, Lill and dad are there. When it is all over Lill looks for Lachlan. She starts crying and says bye. The cadets leave.
This film is dedicated to the more than 250,000 young men and women from around the world, who participated in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada during the Second World War and to all those whose lives and hearts they touched for a moment . . . forever.
Not much history in the movie. But it does give the viewer some idea of the pressures on the air cadets and the people whose lives they are involved with. There are several love stories intertwined here. Given the temporary nature of their stay, the relationships are not very stable as would be expected given the circumstances. (As said in the film, the average life expectancy for a bomber pilot was only six weeks. this alone would make cadets more likely to take chances in their personal lives.)
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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