At 81 years of age Robert Coote is a lot of things; a musician, a tinkerer, a craftsman, a horologist, a rogue and a storyteller. He lives beside his brother Ernie in a quiet, rural part of Bailieborough in Cavan, spending his days meeting friends and playing music, socialising and chipping away at an ambition he has harboured all his life; to fly. Robert Coote is not a pilot.
The Man Who Wanted To Fly is a heartwarming documentary about what it is to have a dream in life and to still find the energy and enthusiasm to turn that into a reality, no matter your age or circumstances. Charting the journey of “Bobby” Coote as he finally begins to put the pieces together for realising his goal and taking care to spend time in his close-knit community with the people he interacts with, the movie builds a wonderful underdog tale around Bobby and his dream.
Despite the scepticism with which his brother Ernie broaches the subject of Bobby’s plan and despite the fact he is the polar opposite of his brother in terms of personality, their affection for each other and brotherly bond leaps off the screen. Watching the pair live out their daily lives is completely life-affirming and seeing them approach each new day with new possibility is a charming treat.
Directed confidently and with a sure hand by Frank Shouldice the story intermittently drops in and out of Bobby’s life over a number of years. During this time Bobby, with the help of some colourful characters, at last takes the first steps to getting himself in the air. Characters like Sean McBride, the farmer who helps Bobby to build a runway in a disused field and cobble together a hangar of sorts for him to store a plane when he finally has enough saved to buy one. Characters like Gerry Snodden, the flight instructor brave enough to take to the skies in a microlight aircraft with an octogenarian with no flying experience whatsoever. Bobby’s story is also the story of these people going out of their way to help him turn his vision into a reality.
Making use of the gorgeous setting, cinematographer Dave Perry captures the majesty and wonder of flight while retaining a more intimate feel to the interviews and history of Bobby and Ernie’s life in their home. As the story inevitably reaches towards it’s conclusion you’ll find yourself enchanted by Bobby’s endeavour and cheering him on to succeed from your seat.
The Man Who Wanted To Fly is not only one of the feel-good movies of the year, it’s a captivating and fascinating look at what rural life can be for some. It’s also gives a glimpse of the sweet and graceful ways that people in small communities band together to offer each other support.
Bobby Coote is that rare breed of person that finds joy and wonder in every little thing he does. Having spent his life with his feet on the ground and his head in the clouds, when he finally gets a chance to turn a 50 year obsession into a reality he seizes his opportunity with both hands. Robert Coote is a lot of things, but most importantly he is a dreamer.