Amelia (PG)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/11/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 115 mins

Watchable, beautifully shot biopic with decent performances, though the film is ultimately brought down by a painfully slow middle section and the script's refusal to dig too deeply into Amelia's character.

What's it all about?
Directed by Mira Nair, Amelia stars Hilary Swank as 1930s aviatrix Amelia Earhart, who became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932. Brushing quickly over her early life, the film begins as Amelia meets publisher-turned-publicist George P. Putnam (Richard Gere), in preparation for the first female transatlantic flight (as a passenger) in 1928.

Over the next ten years, the film follows Amelia through a never-ending round of publicity tours and endorsements (intended to fund her flights), her marriage to Putnam, her first solo flight across the Atlantic, her historic meeting (and subsequent friendship) with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (Cherry Jones) and her affair with fellow pilot and close friend Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor). Meanwhile, the film is intercut with scenes of Amelia and celestial navigator Fred Noonan (Christopher Eccleston) on their 1937 round-the-world flight that would end with their mysterious disappearance over the Pacific Ocean on July 2nd.

The Good
Swank delivers a likeable if oddly subdued performance as the self-described vagabond of the air, though she's slightly overshadowed by Gere, who's superb as Puttnam, particularly in the scene where he effectively confronts Amelia over her affair with Vidal. There's also strong support from Christopher Eccleston, Cherry Jones (almost unrecognisable as 24's President Taylor, thanks to some comedy teeth) and Mia Wasikowska, who's sadly under-used as rival aviatrix Elinor Smith.

The film also looks gorgeous throughout, courtesy of Stuart Dryburgh's lush cinematography and some impressive 1930s production design work.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the film drags horribly in the middle section and the script refuses to shed any light on Amelia's character, so that you learn nothing about what drives her, other than some wishy-washy voiceover narration about wanting to be on the move in three dimensions. Similarly, the film ignores several promising subplots (notably her rivalry with Elinor Smith) and only scratches the surface of her private life, which strips her relationships of any emotional impact they might have had.

Worth seeing?
Amelia is never less than watchable thanks to gorgeous cinematography and strong performances but the script's insistence on playing it safe prevents it from becoming the film it could have been.

Film Trailer

Amelia (PG)
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Content updated: 17/11/2018 11:42

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