Richard (Kenneth Branagh) is an emotional cripple - a depressed painter who's given up on his art, and whose girlfriend has given up on him. Jane (Helena Bonham Carter) is a physical cripple - her body, her ability to speak, deteriorating under the irreversible ravages of Lou Gehrig's disease. Together in The Theory of Flight they make - well, truth be told, they make one really annoying couple.
A TV-movie-ish love story laden with heavy-handed metaphor (Bonham Carter's character comes right out and blurts: ``Taking flight has more than the one meaning''), The Theory of Flight is feeble stuff. Although the actress, fixed to a wheelchair, her head crooked, her speech slurred and stilted, manages to be convincing as a young woman with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Branagh is thoroughly unbelievable as a tortured artist who's turned his canvases into the flimsy skin on the wings of a hand-built airplane. His art, you see, was getting him down, so he thought he'd ``reinvent it into something that would get me up.''