Flying Home (also known as Racing Hearts) is a charming love story that wins your heart. It's shy. It doesn't scream at you with special effects or violence or profanity or prurient sex scenes. It takes place in an area of Belgium most Americans don't know a lot about and in the world of pigeon racing. Flanders and doves. It's safe to say you haven't been inundated with movies about Flanders and doves. Give Flying Home a chance.
Colin (Jamie Dornan) is a hedge-fund hot-shot who sets out to buy a bird worth 300,000 euros on behalf of an Arab dove fancier. He finds himself in a small village in Flanders among a group of dove racing aficionados and is drawn into their world with the help of a local college student and a search for the grave of his British great-grandfather. His great-grandfather, like half a million young British soldiers, died in Flanders in World War 1.
Dornan does some subtle acting here. Colin pretends to be a high school teacher so as to hide his motive for being in Flanders. His character is acting and Dornan layers his performance. A lot of it is in his eyes. Colin's authenticity does surface, especially when he's with college student Isabel. The scene where Colin and Isabel are dancing is a beautiful study of a man who is struggling with conflicting feelings. It's tricky and I have to say Dornan nails it. If you are looking for an over-actor, Dornan is not your man. He's excellent at slowly revealing the facets of Colin.
Isabel is played by Flemish actress Charlotte De Bruyne. Isabel is open and direct. It's clear she likes Colin but she is not aggressive at all. She's lovely and De Bruyne is winsome in the role. It's easy to see why Colin would be drawn to Isabel, especially when you compare her to the NYC women he knows.
The Flemish actors who play the village characters are all skilled and their Flemish accented English adds a lot to the atmosphere developed by the movie. The characters are not twee at all. They are individuals and for that you can thank the writer/director Dominique Deruddere. He knows how to write characters and he knows how to tell a story.
Keep in mind the plot sometimes hinges on unseen action. Because of this and because the world and language (there are a few subtitled passages) of Flying Home are not so familiar to us, you have to give Flying Home your full attention. Do it. You'll be rewarded with a little gem of a movie.