Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Amelia

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some sensuality, language, thematic elements and smoking
Profanity:A few bad words
Nudity/Sex:Non-explicit sexual references and situations including adultery
Alcohol/Drugs:Smoking, drinking, references to alcohol abuse
Violence/Scariness:Peril and violent crashes
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:October 23, 2009
DVD Release Date:February 2, 2010

Amelia Earhart, the pioneering aviator who was lost over the Pacific, is given the big Hollywood biopic treatment in a curiously retro film that feels like it was intended for Katherine Hepburn or Susan Hayward. It is not the 1930’s setting that makes it feel so old-fashioned; it is the traditional take on a very un-traditional life. Earhart’s passion and achievement are what make her most interesting to contemporary audiences. But this film never shows us why flying was important to Earhart or what made her so determined. It does not show us what she was good at. The first name-only title provides the first indication that like the recent “Coco Before Chanel” it will minimize and marginalize the achievements of a woman of enormous historic import by focusing on her love life.

And it’s dull.

Hillary Swank, who produced and stars, plays Earhart as a woman who keeps a lot inside. Much of the acting is done in the varying breadth of her toothy smile, with an occasional blinking back of tears. Earhart is unfailingly brave and game, whether taking first lady Eleanor Roosevelt (an engagingly game Cherry Jones) on a moonlight flight over the Capitol, posing for a luggage ad as a way to finance her flights, or feeling drawn to a man other than her husband (who happens to be, we are repeatedly reminded, the father of future author Gore Vidal).

The film spends too much time on Earhart’s romance with publisher/promoter George Putnam (Richard Gere) and dalliance with Vidal’s father. It feels like a string of incidents without any connecting theme. Even the usually able director, Mira Nair, seems to have her pilot light turned to simmer. As Earhart tries to land on a tiny island to refuel in her attempt to circle the globe for the first time by air, screenwriter Ron Bass (“Stepmom,” “Snow Falling on Cedars”) makes the mistake of trying for for suspense even though the one thing everyone knows about Earhart is that she does not land successfully. The best part of the film comes from the exquisite images from cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh and production design by Stephanie Carroll; they make the backgrounds seem more alive and involving than the characters or the story. It just never takes off.



  • Your Name

    Amelia was an instructional movie about the couragous accomplishments of America’s most famous female pilot of her day. The movie does a reasonable job portraying her as a down to Earth woman. Pardon the reverse pun. The movie had to be “focused on her love life” otherwise the producer could not portray her love of freedom and flying without revealing the sacrifices she made. It is my opinion that both aspects of the love story go-hand-in glove to make it work.
    It was said also that the “pilot light of this movie was turned to simmer” that it didn’t seem to be as exciting as, say, biased WWII propoganda films Hollywood pumped out in the 40’s. looking past the need to have your emotions roiled for two hours Amelia will be a nice change from emotionally stimulating films such as Rocky. As the energy of Rocky fits Stallone’s character, Hillary Swank’s Amelia parallel’s the Aviatrix’s earthy personality making for a nice, laid back, enjoyable movie experience. The films tone reminds me of Seabiscuit, another fun film to watch, that also mirrors the energy of the actors.
    The cinematography was outstanding. You will love the panoramic and rich views.
    If there was profantiy in the movie I didn’t notice it. You will be too involved with the movie to care for one simple reason: It was said within a logical, mature, adult, context that makes sense as opposed to your typical gangsta movie. Anyone that could get offended by this movie’s use of language should stick to Leave It To Beaver for their soft sensibilities. The film does not push any hard language into the audience’s face because it employ’s it in a way that it does not interfer with the heart of the story.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    I am always delighted to hear from someone who saw more in the movie than I did. Many thanks for your comment, which will be of great help to those who are deciding whether to see this film. I did not feel that the movie portrayed Earhart’s love of freedom and flying as much as it portrayed her talking about those things. And I completely agree about the cinematography; as I mentioned in my review, one of the best-shot films of the year.

  • Christian

    GOD’s name is taken in vain in this movie, according to http://njfamily.com/en/news/Reel_Life_Amelia_Movie_Review.aspx. I hoped to see this film, but cannot because of my creator’s name being used as profanity.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thank you, Christian. I referred to the bad language in my review and parental advisory. I regret to say that most media today including television and films contain this kind of language, so if you choose to keep yourself separate on that basis you will do better with older movies available on DVD.

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