(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "Come From Away"

Where You Can Stream it: Apple TV+

The Pitch: I'm not here to sell you on musicals. Either you wrestled the remote away from your uncle on Christmas day to stream the release of "Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical" or you writhe in agony every time the neighbor's kid sings "We Don't Talk About Bruno." There's just no in-between. I'm also not here to sell you on rehashing grief. Lord knows we've got enough movies (and musicals, if I'm being honest) about World War II to last us until World War IX, maybe even beyond. I think it's important to say these things now because what I am here to sell you on might feel like I'm cramming both into your face and musicals are notoriously divisive when it comes to handling somber subjects.

With that out of the way, "Come From Away" is a musical about 9/11. Wait! Don't stop reading! Remember what I said — this show is so much more than what it seems. Instead of depicting the destruction of the twin towers set to music, which is almost certainly the wretched image that first came to your mind, "Come From Away" shares the real story of the nearly 7,000 displaced passengers from 38 planes that were denied entry into U.S. airspace on that fateful day. Forced to land elsewhere, they flew to Gander, Newfoundland, a small island off the eastern coast of Canada that once played host to a popular cross-continental airport. Naturally, chaos ensues, but so does an unrivaled display of healing and community.

Why It's Essential Viewing

I'll get to the music but it's vital that we start off with the story and the storytellers. "Come From Away" features an ensemble of 12 actors who perform double/triple/quadruple duty as the citizens of Gander and the stranded "Plane People" or, as they're also named by the Newfoundlanders, the "Come From Aways." The citizens of Gander are wholly disconnected from America, comprised of everyday folk — school teachers, police officers, veterinarians, bus drivers, etc. Through them, the audience discovers the tragedy of 9/11 as breaking news consumes every method of communication. Car radios stop playing music. TVs stop showing, well, anything that isn't live footage of New York City. It is the start of a moment at the edge of the world, and it perfectly encapsulates the gravitas without providing a play-by-play.

Unlike the rest of the world, however, the citizens of Gander aren't allowed a chance to process the news because, out of the blue, their population is instantly doubled by an insurgence of terrified Plane People in need of food and shelter and clothes and medicine and a reassuring hug. Without hesitation, the Newfoundlanders rally together to offer up their homes and their services and their goods to provide for the Plane People, even going so far as to ensure that the religiously inclined from all walks of life are granted space to do their thing. From the literal mayor to the average retail worker (the line "Thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart, would you like to come back to my house for a shower?" gets me every time), everyone pitches in without any thought for payment.

7,000 Strays

The Plane People aren't just displaced Americans, they're everyone, from everywhere. "Come From Away" shows these passengers for what they are — human beings. Unlike the citizens of Gander, the Plane People have no idea what's going on. In the air, they're rerouted without any warning and, upon landing, they're left inside the planes for upwards of 30 hours without any justification. All they know is that something has happened and that, suddenly, their grounded planes are surrounded by anxious soldiers. Slowly, the Plane People and the flight crews (including the first female captain in American history) are siphoned into Gander and the surrounding townships, and that's when the news finally hits. For some, it means the loss of loved ones, for others, it means the beginning of racially charged hatred and violence. Both of these consequences are felt as the Plane People struggle to cope with their new situation and with each other.

A bus driver uses his bible to bridge a language barrier with an African family so that they can rest more easily. An entrepreneur from Los Angeles immerses himself in the local culture, becoming an honorary Newfoundlander. An Englishman and a Texan woman fall in love during their impromptu stay and ultimately get married. A Black man experiences a people unencumbered by anti-Black racial profiling for the first time in his life. A frightened New Yorker finds a lifelong friend in a local government official as they bond over bad jokes and the perils of motherhood. A Muslim chef insists upon aiding the culinary effort to feed the massive passenger population, even those that now fear him for reasons beyond his control. "Come From Away" shines a light on the camaraderie that can be forged by those who are willing and accepting.

A Candle, A Kettle, And An Open Door

"Come From Away" never shies away from its impetus, nor from its ramifications, and yet it still chooses to focus the lens on creation rather than destruction. Musically, it's written in a way that no singular tune disrupts that theme, either. The songs seamlessly intertwine with the narrative, which allows "Come From Away" to tell a unified story where all the pieces work together to make the whole even greater. The show's made all the more personable by the casting, too, which deviates from the ebbing musical theatre stereotype by using more accessible and more varied bodies. It's not just 12 ripped white guys in their early 20s, is what I'm trying to say.

I gravitate towards shows like "Come From Away" because I crave earnest kindness. Like the Plane People, the concept of altruism feels startling and foreign to me more often than I would like. Please don't misunderstand, I'm as much to blame for that lack as anyone else, and watching the "Come From Away" proshot doesn't replace an actual good deed but it's a healthy reminder that there's a world out there beyond my own jaded perception. Hmm, this is getting dangerously introspective. Let's reorient the mirror. If you're reading this at the time of its original publishing, the last day of 2022 (when did that happen?), you might be working on a few New Year's Resolutions. Consider this one — be like the Newfoundlanders, I promise it will leave a lasting impression.

And, hey, if that's too much, just start with watching the damn thing.

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The post The Daily Stream: Come From Away Forges a Community From Chaos appeared first on /Film.