Passenger C | Film Threat
Mar 5, 2023
Is it hard to believe that good can come if you refuse to give up on people? Writer-director Cassian Elwes’ drama, Passenger C, tells the story of one such intense event and the happy ending that came as a result. The producer of Dallas Buyers Club and The Butler uses the true story of an eventful flight home as the basis for his story.
Jon Jacobs portrays Elwes as a driven movie producer on a brief trip to reconnect with his daughter to compensate for all the years spent away from home working. Needing to return to Los Angeles to see about a film that’s gone way over budget, he hopes to catch a few Zs on his flight home. Unfortunately, the seemingly normal boarding process is interrupted by the arrival of Marco (Éric Bruneau), who is acting belligerent and wants to be left alone.
While in the air, Marco begins acting out violently and freaking out the passengers around him. He’s constantly talking to himself, swearing, and lashing out at anyone who tries to confront him. As the plane prepares for an early landing to take care of this situation, Elwes volunteers to change seats and sit next to Marco to keep an eye on him. Thus begins a very long and uncomfortable conversation to keep Marco calm and distract him from the pilot’s announcement of an early landing. For his trouble, Elwes receives a swift punch to the rib.
In his conversation with Marco, Elwes finds compassion and promises to advocate for him to the authorities. But, instead, when Elwes returns to L.A., he hits the ground running, trying to fix his film’s budget problems and get this undesirable indie project funded in five days.
“…the seemingly normal boarding process is interrupted by the arrival of Marco…”
Taking the writer and director role, Passenger C is not only Elwes’ story but also his film. It’s hard not to see the irony as Elwes, in the movie, is trying to scrape together money to make Dallas Buyers Club, and in real life, he had to do something similar to make this. Clearly, this is a passion project for the man, and I get that the Hollywood system would just cast aside the producer’s vanity project without ever seeing its heart.
Let’s face it, this is an independent microbudget project made on the cheap. The film features simple sets and set-ups. However, the director captures this incredible event and its heartfelt message of second chances. Elwes must deal with the reality of being an invisible father, a driven producer, and ultimately being able to peer into Marco’s heart and see a misunderstood man in need of a break in life. While this isn’t high drama, it reflects an intense flight that changed two lives for the better. There is also a bit of exciting cinematic history in seeing how Dallas Buyers Club was ultimately greenlit with minutes to spare.
The filmmaker also allows the performances to be the central focus. I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing much of lead actor Jon Jacobs’ early work, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him play a normal guy, much less a typical movie producer. Much of his performance is introspective, looking into how this event changed the man’s view on life. The actor feels right in the part.
Passenger C is the type of film we champion at Film Threat. When Hollywood doesn’t want to make your movie, then make it yourself. Yes, the micro-budget doesn’t exactly help the overall quality of the production. But like any producer worth their salt, Cassian Elwes has a story to tell about investing in a person, like a movie, when told by others that it’s not worth it.
Passenger C screened at the 2023 Cinequest/Cinejoy Film Festival.
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