WHEN I WAS in college and hoarded pretensions like precious gemstones, I was convinced that the sadder a film was the more important it was for me to see it. I would drag my unsuspecting chums to unrelentingly dour character dramas, shot on the cheap in the shadow of Brutalist project housing. But while I certainly became better acquainted with certain perspectives on poverty and drug use, I soon discovered that wallowing in misery isn't a shortcut to understanding human drama, and that emotional intensity isn't shorthand for emotional intelligence. I don't think watching those films made me a worse person, but I'm not sure it made me a better person, either. And I'm fairly certain my mood improved when I stopped watching someone walk into the sea and drown every weekend.

I bring all this up because Aloft is one of those films. It's not a bad exercise in abject human misery, but it is, at the end of the day, an exercise in abject human misery. (Let me put it this way: There's a kid with terminal cancer in this movie, and that's not the worst thing that happens to him.) It's rough. On the plus side, Jennifer Connelly and Cillian Murphy gnaw on the scenery with the tenacity of feral badgers, there's some impressive cinematography of the shittiest parts of Canada, and falcons are prominently featured. None of this is enough to make Aloft compelling.

Aloft's story—a quixotic hodgepodge of bad decisions, faith healing, and falconry—might be better suited to an above-average airport bookstore novel. With a book, you can take breaks every third catastrophe or so, but this story is too punishing to be enjoyable or instructive in a medium that refuses to give you a breather. In other words, dragging someone to see this movie will likely ruin your relationship with them.