Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Amelia


Come Oscar night, I doubt that Hilary Swank will be winning her third award for Best Actress. If she gets nominated, I’ll eat my hat. It’s not that her performance is bad. It’s just that her performance is not enough of anything, much like the film she stars in, Amelia, directed by Mira Nair.

First of all, bad title. Sounds like a Disney Channel movie. Second, the supporting performances by Richard Gere as George Putnam and Ewan McGregor as Gene Vidal are serviceable, but the actors don’t get much to do. George begs Amelia not to fly around the world. Gene and Amelia have an affair that does little else but make George gloomy and tight-mouthed for a couple of scenes.

Thus, in a film with so little story and conflict, it’s amazingly irritating for us to hear Amelia and Gene repeatedly calling his son’s first name, “Gore… Gore… Gore,” just so we have time to register that this boy, whose presence in the story is totally unnecessary, will grow up to be the famous writer.

Nevertheless, I found this little film rather pleasant. The flying scenes are stunning, especially when the film taps its inner Out of Africa to fly over giraffes and jungles. These scenes carry you away; there’s something very pure and beautiful about a propeller-driven plane. But for a film about a woman’s passion for flying, we don’t get to spend enough time off the ground.

6 comments:

Craig said...

Hilary Swank: Has there been a more limited actress to win two Oscars? Annette Bening must be sticking pins into a voodoo doll by now, though from your description it sounds like she won't have to bother this time. Stephanie Zacharek wrote, "Based on this movie, you'd think that Amelia Earhart was a talker rather than a doer." And then when her plane crashed on that island with all those mopey creatures and...oh, wait: wrong movie.

it’s amazingly irritating for us to hear Amelia and Gene repeatedly calling his son’s first name, “Gore… Gore… Gore,” just so we have time to register that this boy, whose presence in the story is totally unnecessary, will grow up to be the famous writer.

"Walk Hard" had a very funny running gag based on this cliche. Sample scene:

Dewey Cox: Boy, Buddy Holly, I sure am nervous.

Buddy Holly: Don't worry, Dewey. You shouldn't feel nervous going on after Buddy Holly.

Dewey Cox: Gosh, thanks, Buddy Holly!

Buddy Holly: Sure! Buddy Holly wlll warm them up for you, or my name isn't Buddy Holly!

Drew said...

It's a shame that by most accounts (including yours), this film does not quite live up to the epic potential that such an interesting subject with a cast of this caliber could have produced. Nice writeup and great blog, keep up the good work!

Hokahey said...

Craig - Thanks for the witticisms on a Monday morning when I got up late and had to rush and I don't like that and so I need humor. Very funny about the Buddy Holly routine. I hate when they do that in serious movies. And this movie is so short and it has so little in it, that it could have done without little Gore in the first place.

Just before her plane goes down (and we can assume that happened so why doesn't the film make that moment much more dramatic!!!???), I would have loved it if Hilary had looked out the window down at the broad Pacific and seen a little boy in a little sailboat. They could have justified it as a tribute to Wild Things.

Drew - Thanks for visiting and thanks for the praise. I noticed on your "Hallowe'en Treats" your inclusion of The Innocents -which still is the scariest movie I've ever seen, in my opinion. What a great film!

J.D. said...

That's a damn shame about this film. I had high hopes for it after finding out that Mira Nair, who made the wonderful MONSOON WEDDING, was directing. Oh well... It sounds like it might be worth checking out on DVD at some point...

Jason Bellamy said...

I'll probably still see this movie, but your description lines up with my expectations.

As for Craig's comment ...

Hilary Swank: Has there been a more limited actress to win two Oscars?

Here's the funny thing: I agree with that, and yet I don't think either of her wins are ridiculously unjust. I'm not comparing her performances against other actresses those years, just saying that her two winning performances were, well, winning performances, if you follow me. But when I think of Hilary Swank do I think of a great actress? Well, no. I don't.

Hokahey said...

J.D. - I would say that Nair's talent for direction comes through. Everything is beautifully staged, but she doesn't have enough material to work with - not enough story and not enough from Swank that reveals Amelia's inner workings.

Jason - I agree about Swank. Her two Oscar wins are deserved - especially the first. But it sure seems she needs just the right role and the right direction. She's very lucky to have been given those two winning roles.