If you’re going to make a film about an aviatrix, it better soar. Mira Nair's AMELIA seems to understand this with reverent voiceovers about flight sprinkled throughout. It even begins by prepping for liftoff as we see Amelia Earhart (Hilary Swank) waving from her plane’s wing, about to embark on a historic flight. Unfortunately it's the historic flight, as in her last. Argh! The movie has opted for that musty old biopic framing device: Start at the famous end, jump backwards in time to see how it all began, count down with us to the famous celebrity death! When a biopic begins this way, you have to worry that it has nothing fresh to say, being closer in spirit to a Wikipedia entry than a movie.Read the rest at Towleroad.
From that initial take off, complete with an overzealous score that assumes every moment's a climactic one, Amelia the film zooms through Amelia the person's rise to fame as if we all know every detail and can't wait to get to that doomed flight. Though clearly in a rush to get there, it feels like it's crawling rather than flying toward its final destination...
In that weekly column at Towleroad (for those of you who don't read it, it's a popular news site "with homosexual tendencies") I'm expected to cover new releases but the content and focus is of my choosing. I knew I had to write about "Amelia" since she's a lesbian icon although the movie Amelia won't be a hit with the ladies who love ladies. [Tangent: I'm unsurprised by the immediate regurgitated arguments about Earhart's orientation popping up in the comments at Amelia's official site. This always happens with historical figures who are either rumored to have been gay or are of particular fascination to the gays. It's the way of things.]
One thing I didn't mention in this review is how absolutely crazy the sanctification of Saint Amelia made me. I understand that the rarity and vast achievements of iconic historical figures practically insures that they will be viewed through a distorted lens (color, rose). They're our cultural heroes, after all. But it's anti-dramatic to sanctify your lead... not to mention historically suspect. If you're going to make a movie about a hero, allow them to have edges or curves. We know them two-dimensionally already! The casting of Hilary Swank (though she looks nearly perfect for the role) adds to this problem since she loves to be martyred and sanctified as an actress. Oh shush, you know she does!
Oscar hopes? Two longshot possibilities only I think: Swank for Best Actress (they sometimes lose their minds for this sort of stiff biographical posing. See... well, see a lot of nominees) and the cinematography by the great Stuart Dryburgh (The Piano, The Painted Veil). His work is part of the sanctification problem but hot damn it's pretty.
Coming tomorrow: "Antichrist" and by that I mean the movie and not Hilary Swank.