| February 13, 2010

It’s hard to say which element really destroys “Amelia” more effectively, the mis-casting or the poor editing, but really, it’s a photo finish.
The movie isn’t really a bio-pic about Amelia Earhart. It doesn’t spend any time in her childhood, teenage years or early twenties. It opens inexplicably in New York City with Earhart meeting her future husband, George Putnam. We don’t know how or where, but she’s learned to fly, though not very well, according to Putnam, and she’s going to be a woman passenger in a flight across the Atlantic, though she’s actually going to be credited as piloting the flight. Earhart is uncomfortable with this notion, but goes along with it anyway…. because George Putnam is just that cute? The film never explains.
The rest of the movie jolts along inconsistently, episodically telling the story of Amelia’s marriage to Putnam, her affair with Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), and her eventual death. The shots of the world passing underneath a plane are stunning, with desert landscapes and rolling hills and churning seas fading smoothly together while Hilary Swank provides voice-over in an inconsistent and mysterious dialect. Indeed, she and Richard Gere (Putnam) spend most of the movie alternating between 1920’s caricature-speak and their own voices.
Swank is an acceptable Earhart, her hair cut short, non-traditional grin in place. She’s given virtually nothing in the script to work with, and does the best she can with a somewhat churlish, difficult to like character. Gere is horrendously miscast, in a role he’s 10 years too old for and not the right physical type for. Not only that, but Gere again proves his only real ability as an actor is to close his eyes very tightly to demonstrate that he’s thinking. It’s an old, tired trick that never really worked before, and still doesn’t work now.
The real tragedy of this movie is the fact that Amelia Earhart really was a cool woman. A woman who, for her time, must have been filled with ambition and drive, and was probably a little selfish. Instead of trying to tell any kind of story about the path a woman would have to choose in order to achieve the kind of things Earhart did, this movie lamely settles for a cheap love story that’s not particularly believable, and isn’t at all touching. A sad attempt at what could have been an interesting and lively movie.

About the Author:

Heather Trow is a nursing assistant and part-time writer. When she is not writing, she is listening to the popular podcast "NEVER NOT FUNNY". Actually, at any given time, most likely, she is listening to the podcast. It's pretty much all she does besides work. It is her favorite thing.
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