You're going to have to trust me on this one: I am a romantic. Once is one of my favorite films; I teared up at both Up and Mary and Max (animated characters struggling for their small bit of happiness just hit some special spot in me). But when you're telling the tale of Amelia Earhart, I'm not quite looking to swoon. I want the adventure, I want the danger -- I want the tale of how the first aviatrix thumbed her nose at the patriarchy and got it done.
In Amelia, director Mira Nair seeks to delve into both the personal and professional life of Earhart, played here by Hilary Swank. The flying stuff, particularly a final act dedicated to the doomed final leg of Earhart's attempt to circumnavigate the globe, is pretty much everything I could ask for -- accomplished with a mix of live action aeronautics and CG simulation; and both visually beautiful and dramatically riveting. The romance, though -- which focuses primarily on Earhart's relationships with her publisher and point man George Putnam (Richard Gere) and pilot and airline innovator Gene Vidal (yes, father of Gore, and here played by Ewan McGregor) -- didn't particularly grab me. I sensed Nair tiptoeing genteelly around the subject, and can't help but suspect that the private world of such a, s'cuse me, balls-out woman was possibly messier and certainly more dynamic than what appears on-screen. I would've preferred seeing if the fires that fueled Earhart's pursuit of the sky burned as bright in her personal relationships. That opportunity seems to have been missed.
Mira Nair talked to me about making the world of Earhart a filmic reality, and discussed how one of the earliest media sensations strained against her public image. Click on the player below to hear the interview.
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