MOVIE: Amelia (2009)

Riddle me this, my friends — how does a movie about such a fascinating person (Amelia Earhart) that is also a veritable ex-Boyfriendapalooza (Richard GereEwan McGregorChristopher Eccleston!) still end up being THIS INCREDIBLY DULL?

I have no answers.  Well, okay, I might have a few answers.  Read on.

I’ve been intrigued by the story of Amelia Earhart since I first learned about her in grade school.  Who hasn’t, really?  Despite that interest, though, I’d never really pursued my curiosity about her.  Never read any books.  Never watched any films.   She was a great feminist hero and then she crashed.  That was about all I had.  And about all I needed, I guess.

But when I heard they were making a movie about her, starring Hilary Swank in the title role (my Dad says she’s the spittin’ image, by the way, and since he’s a pilot himself, I trust his judgment on that one), my interest in learning more was kicked into gear.  I knew very little about what led up to Earhart’s dramatic flight(s) and the mystery of her disappearance/death, and I was eager to find out at last.

I rented this one with Mom a couple of months ago, and, not surprisingly, the details of Amelia’s rise to American aviation heroism were as incredible as expected.   Watching her courage and tenacity zoom circles around her male peers as she gradually made the move from the back of the plane to the front was pretty awesome, in the most authentic sense of the term.  She may have had the freckles of a little girl, but she had the balls of a big brass gorilla, so to speak, and she knew it too.

Someone else who knew it was her husband,  famous New York publisher G. P. Putnam (Gere, whose crinkly eyes are still the best crinkly eyes of all time, I might add), and I found the tale of their marriage likewise fascinating.  His role in publicizing her career was instrumental in her success, but not once did their working relationship get in the way of their obvious, passionate adoration for each other.  It was a beautiful thing to see, to be honest.  I was expecting more turmoil in that storyline, the way there always seems to be in movies/TV shows depicting the romantic relationships of strong, independent, professional women.  Instead, I was surprised to find that yes, yes, she was a role model for us there as well, in many ways.  Right there in her marriage too.  In making her marriage work.  Ups and downs, sure.  But still always somehow leveling back out to even coasting.  I dig.  You dig?

And yet — and yet! — much as I wanted to embrace this movie, much as I was fascinated by the individual story elements themselves, when they got put together. . . yawn, zzzzzz.  MAN, it was boring.  The movie is way too slowly paced, repetitive, and long.  Somehow, it manages to take all these incredible stories and sputter them dry of all verve.  I don’t know what was wrong with it, really.   I suppose part of the problem is that, for all the amazingness of her life, Amelia Earhart kind of lived a simple one.  No major dramas, just direction, dedication, and dreams pursued and fulfilled.

I wonder if maybe more of a focus on her final flight, maybe even something speculative?, might’ve rescued this film from its drabness?  I suppose that wouldn’t have been fair, really — making something up there at the end.  Her living happily ever after on a tropical island with a volleyball named Wilson, perhaps?  But it certainly would’ve been a lot more fun.

And so, my friends, my advice to you is to skip this one.  Let’s wait for another one instead.  The story of Amelia Earhart is out there, filmmakers — tell it to me again.  I’ll wait.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Drama
Cast:  Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Joe Anderson, Christopher Eccleston, Mia Wasikowska

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One Response to “MOVIE: Amelia (2009)”

  1. briantoohey Says:

    Hilary Swank has some kind of curse on her. Seriously. Shes a very good actress, incredibly intelligent, and the kind of actress/producer who’s able to get things made. But I just saw Conviction (review to come, as with dozens of other things), and she seems to put out quality stuff that nevertheless borders on the tedious and boring. Plus, the director of this, Mira Nair, seems to just suck the life out of projects as well. I have a feeling that perhaps Swank has some agenda to be “fair” and “intelligent,” and somewhere along the line she places these ahead of “entertaining” and “compelling.” I hearby bestow Hilary Swank with a one-cheesy-montage-sequence-per-movie card if that somehow helps to pick things up and keep them moving along before her films fall into a full-bore, sleep-inducing dead stop.

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