You want to like this movie.
If for no other reason, Mira Nair’s direction hearkens to an
earlier, gentler era of moviemaking, where the characters look like they
just walked out of wardrobe and makeup, and their language is articulate
and refined, not plebian or habitually coarse.
The viewer doesn’t walk away feeling “dumbed down.”
The relationships are strong and significant.
The romances are carefully understated, especially the sexuality.
Even an affair is not explicit; rather, sort of an extension of the
passion of the individuals. Enthusiastic
embrace in the elevator, fade to the next morning.
Not even one foot still on the bedroom floor.
And, of course, you want to like
Amelia Earhart. Hilary Swank
plays the part with a tomboyish charm, exuding graceful athleticism.
She’s a pioneer woman in a man’s world, but she advances with
quiet insistence, evident talent, and knowledgeable sponsors.
Yes, in a way, she’s an icon for feminism, but the ability to sit
in an airplane cockpit for long periods shouldn’t necessarily qualify
for superhero nomination. The
publicity and celebrity status is a little puzzling, except that she was
one who pushed the envelope of flying solo “for a woman”---but if it
has to be qualified in that way, how is it truly feminist?
True, there was real danger assumed because of the limited
technology available. Indeed,
her demise was apparently due to a perfect storm of faulty equipment---
headphones didn’t work, battery was down on the radio signal, Morse code
transmitter discarded to lighten the load---oh, and maybe the navigator
was hung over?---but really, there was no real purpose served by making
the effort, anyway, even if it were to succeed.
The world in 1937 had more important things to worry about, like
Hitler’s rise to power, and
’s invasion of
, and a worldwide Depression. We
just never hear about any of that inconvenient stuff, except one fleeing
shot of a soup line, from the limo on the way to the big press conference
at a swanky hotel.
the end, the public’s fascination with Amelia Earhart remains an enigma,
even as she does. Disappearing
at age 40, in the midst of a more innocent age, apparently made her as
mysteriously iconic as…a Marilyn Monroe, or a James Dean.
There is a brief mention of rivalry with other women pilots, which
might have been more interesting to develop than the rather meaningless
affair, which didn’t seem to really affect anything.
Richard Gere, as her promoter then husband, and Ewan McGregor, as
her occasional lover, are always solid performers, but there’s something
about the arm’s length presentation that makes the viewer feel the
distance from the characters, as well.
“Amelia” is pleasant enough.
But not great.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace