Amelia (PG)



Drama (2009)
111mins US

Starring: Hilary Swank, Christopher Eccleston, Richard Gere, Mia Wasikowska, Joe Anderson, Cherry Jones, Ewan McGregor
Director: Mira Nair
Writer(s): Ronald Bass, Anna Hamilton Phelan
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Chocolate box biopic of the plucky aviatrix, who soared to new heights in her trusty Lockhead L-10 Electra, only to disappear in 1937 during an attempt to fly around the world. Meanwhile, Amelia becomes embroiled in a love triangle between her publisher husband George Putnan and dashing aeronautics professor Gene Vidal.

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LondonNet Film Review
Amelia

A film about the first woman of aviation - who recklessly inspired millions of women to break gender boundaries and whose life was cut short in enduringly mysterious circumstances - should be the stuff of studio executives' dreams, right? Well, apparently not, going by the new biopic of American icon Amelia Earhart...

Amelia. Fox UK FilmFor despite the best efforts of two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who tackles the role of the plucky aviatrix with gusto, Amelia the film fails to take flight. There's no denying the aerial photography is beautiful to look at. Shot in widescreen, the audience wallows in panoramic vistas of deserts and safari plains. It succeeds in conveying the wonderment and awe Earhart felt on her travels - something she often spoke about on the lecture tours she embarked on to finance her flying passions. The 1930s period costumes are also spot-on, particularly Swank's wardrobe, which encapsulates the modern, slightly androgynous Earhart, who became the style icon of her time. And then there are the beautiful vintage aircrafts, not least a Lockhead L-10 Electra, the plane in which she disappeared. The criticism has to be saved for the moment the characters open their mouths to deliver an unrelenting avalanche of cliches.

In light of the fact that the script comes care of two acclaimed writers, Ron Bass (Rain Man) and Anna Hamilton Phelan (Gorillas In the Mist), there's really no excuse. Compressed from two biographies, The Sound Of Wings and East To Dawn, the biopic focuses on the decade between Earhart's first flight across the Atlantic in 1928 and her disappearance during an attempt to fly around the world in 1937. Unfortunately, her exceptional achievements are consistently undercut by a stilted, clunky script and the dogged insistence that "one should live the dream" and let us not forget "there's more to life than being a passenger". Within 10 minutes, you're already thinking, "Okay, okay, I get it!". Director Mira Nair, of Monsoon Wedding fame, should know better, but then there's the faint scent of studio censorship that envelops the film.

Amelia. Fox UK FilmAs with any adaptation from book to screen there will be omissions, but what's most infuriating about Amelia is the tip-toeing around the subject matter - as if to suggest anything less than 'pure white' would forever flaw America's heroine. Take the rather limp love triangle between Earhart, her publisher husband George Putnan (Richard Gere) and aeronautics professor Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), with whom there were rumours she had a secret affair. Neither relationship is fully explored, and the lack of intimacy proves unfulfilling, particularly in that the rest of Earhart's life appears to be over-romanticised. The aim of the film may be to inspire, but you're more likely to be left feeling emotionally cold by the time the credits roll.

- Kim Hu


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