Director Carroll Ballard doesn't have many films to his name, but what's there is (mostly) nothing to be ashamed of: The Black Stallion, his best-known picture, told the oddly moving story of a boy and his horse; Never Cry Wolf, about a man studying hairy dogs in Canada, continued to explore people's relationship with and responsibility to the environment; while Wind, his America's Cup adventure, despite turning turtle on release, is notable for its beautiful sailing shots.
Back after another spell in the film-making wilderness, Ballard's come up with an unexpectedly gripping kids' adventure. Fly Away Home is the story of a 14-year-old girl's perilous journey across North America in an Ultralight aircraft, as she leads a flock of orphaned geese to a safe winter hideaway. It features strong performances from the leads, particularly Jeff Daniels as the eccentric inventor father who provides young Amy (Paquin) with the technology, inspiration and quilted jackets she needs to undertake her journey. There is some dizzying, blow-chunks aerial photography, too.
You'd think that, if your interest in animals doesn't extend beyond a weekly McChicken Sandwich, caring about members of the duck family wouldn't come easy. Yet, against all odds, Fly Away Home is a poignant, stirring celebration of the charm of geese.