AmeliaWednesday 11 Nov 2009
Director: Mira Nair
Starring: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, Joe Anderson, Cherry Jones, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Abrams, Dylan Roberts, Scott Yaphe, Tom Fairfoot, Ryann Shane, William Cuddy, Elizabeth Shepherd and Richard Donat.
Duration: 111 minutes
Here's the thing about 'Amelia'- if it's not a fitting tribute then it's always going to be perceived as somewhat of an insult. Amelia Earhart's legacy commands massive respect and therefore you expect any film treatment to bow to her achievements and show us the real person behind the headlines. 'Amelia', sadly, is not that legacy-endorsing movie.
Hilary Swank stars in the title role, tracing the life of a woman obsessed with flying, not just obsessed with it but also a pioneer in aviation - the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. With her thick Kansas accent, freckled face and that distinctive smile in place, Swank sets about bringing this extraordinary woman to life - and she doesn't fail in this task. She pays particular attention to her speech patterns, her mannerisms and her style - painting a picture of the very famous pilot, which is indeed a good starting point.
We are introduced to Amelia as a feisty young lady who knows how to speak her mind and put a point across plainly, characteristics which seem to attract book publisher George Putman (Gere) to her almost instantly. Unfortunately for him they also attract the attention of handsome pilot Gene Vidal (McGregor).
Over the course of the movie, we catch glimpses of Amelia's determination to prove a point to the world, to champion female pilots and to see places she has always dreamed of flying over. The problem is that inspirational is replaced with overly-sentimental in many places, with Amelia's triumphs spoiled by moments of silliness (cue parish choirs and talking to sheep).
Predominantly it is the script that lets this movie down. Mawkish and flimsy, it fails to delve into Amelia's character, not giving enough of an insight into her, as a person or as a wife. Although her passion for flying is evident there is something lacking, something which would have made the story seem complete. And, although you really want to invest in Swank's portrayal (which seems accurate and well-studied), it's hard to believe in Amelia at times. She seems just a little too aloof, like she's disconnected from her own life. Gere is solid as the infatuated and dutiful husband, who will take whatever part of his wife is left after she has shared herself with the world, while McGregor is as suave and charming as you would expect in his limited role.
Because of an attachment to her story, most people will probably want to like this movie but that is made difficult by the fact that you constantly feel like the lady in question has been cheated.