Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Amelia Review

Well, I FINALLY got to see AMELIA, the Amelia Earhart biopic. While I doubt it's going to be an Oscar contender, I'd give it a 7.5 or 8 out of 10. Hilary initially annoyed me with her feigned accent and attempts to hold her mouth in the same way as Amelia. I think they even modified the look of Swank's teeth to have the sort of gap toothed smile Earhart had. However, as the film went on she really owned the role and definitely came to embody the real deal, both physically and in terms of carriage and personality. I found Richard Gere sort of dull and flat, but Ewan McGregor was as handsome and charming as ever.

If you are going in expecting an epic blockbuster filled with f/x and drama, like TITANIC, you will be disappointed, although I found some of the flight scenes gripping (what a bone-rattling experience vintage flight was!); personally, I never expected it to be anything other than a biopic, and I think the film did a very respectable (but maybe sometimes too subtle) job of trying to highlight Amelia Earhart's pluck, independence, and influence on generations of women (both pilots and none). For example, the director liked to briefly show little girls staring admiringly at Amelia from the sidelines.

Of course, the cinematography and costumes were lovely, but I also like how the movie highlighted the financial difficulties facing women explorers who did not have independent means and the effects that this larger historical reality had on Earhart's own public identity and relationship with her manager and husband, Putnam. (I would have liked even more on just how unconventional Earhart would have been seen as in relation to the gender status quo of her day, but there were subtle gestures in that direction through dialogue and background details).

All in all, while I found some of the attempts to "psychologize" Earhart's motives for her wanderlust and her resistance to marriage and commitment a bit oversimplistic (example: having Earhart come out and say, "my father is a drunk. He's always disappointing me" when Putnam asks why she's so loathe to commit) or something to that effect, all in all, this was a very enjoyable and interesting film. Even though we all know how Earhart's story ends, I found myself really emotionally involved in the climax.

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