The acclaimed ensemble of artists responsible for the utter disappointment that is Amelia proves that Oscars and STARmeters don’t guarantee interminable success in the entertainment industry. Amelia Earhart, a rare spirit who dared to dream in a man’s world is not only one of the primary female American icons, but is accountable for significantly advancing the age of aviation. Translation: excellent foundation for a triumphant biopic!
Continue on for the grueling details of a butchered idea…
- Director: Mira Nair (The Namesake, Vanity Fair)
- Cast: Hilary Swank (two-time Academy Award winner) Richard Gere (Golden Globe winner) and Ewan McGregor (Golden Globe nominee)
- Writers: Ron Bass (Academy Award winner) and Anna Hamilton Phelan
The Earhart legend ignites after she becomes the first female to successfully fly across the Atlantic. She immediately develops global celebrity status, and is deemed the American sweetheart, or “goddess of light.” The movie hi-lights her bold, relentless ambition to set records with her ultimate round-the-world mission, and the love triangle between her husband/promoter George P. Putnam (Gere) and longtime friend/lover, pilot Gene Vidal (McGregor).
Ten-minutes in I had to remind myself that, yes, I was indeed at a press screening and not in a UCLA auditorium screening a student film. The writing, the acting, the cinematography, and the editing was entirely trite and in no way even mildly legato. The shot choices, the needless voice-over, the painfully insipid dialogue, and most laughably, the consistent dramatic fades into the course of Earhart’s world-wide journey (the narrative frame-work of the film) collectively rendered me baffled. That being said, let’s get specific:
- Story Structure: There was very little story development, and most of the alleged “pinnacles” were in no way supported by or prefaced with any logical progression. (Suddenly, Putnam kisses her, and they’re married! Suddenly, amidst her escalating fame, she stumbles on the most illustrious depression in the history of America! Suddenly, she’s having an affair, but her husband recovers over night and buys her an 80 thousand dollar aircraft!) It was as if crucial transitional pieces of the story had simply slipped out of the final cut.
- Swank’s Performance: With two Oscars on your mantelpiece, emotional stagnancy in a performance doesn’t cut it. Swank’s overall delivery barely scratched the surface of mediocrity, and while the writing didn’t exactly allow for much visible character evolution, the scale of her character’s potential sentiments still exceeded the seemingly drug-induced smiles and giggles she offered us. The varying derivatives of her attempted Amelia Earhart accent presented a distraction so glowing that whatever poor dialogue she was spouting was entirely overshadowed. You’re watching an Academy Award winning actress simply go through the motions, void of all depth and believability.
- Theme: Nair’s disclosed objective was to allow the audience to “understand her life” because “not many know her real story.” Sure, we all recognize her iconic status, but this legendary woman’s back-story is relatively ambiguous to the average American. So, enlighten us! Nair fell short of her aim. There was no freshly explored dimension of this woman – it couldn’t have been a more general portrait of the historical figure we’ve already become acquainted with.
- Ewan McGregor: The few minutes of the film that didn’t seem totally elementary were graced by Ewan McGregor – a brief, but honest and well acted performance. For this motion picture, that alone deserves a nod.
This was an opportunity for two of the few dominant women in the entertainment industry to both acknowledge and glorify the life of one of our nation’s biggest female inspirations – a rare occasion. When the top artists in the game let you down, the courtesy sugar-coat isn’t in the cards. Go see Ong Bak 2. That’s right, I said it.
Amelia hits theaters on October 23rd.