Ewan McGregor, Hillary Swank
Here is something you might not have known about Amelia Earhart: Her father was an alcoholic. Here’s another thing you might not have known: her mother was the first woman to climb Pike’s Peak, or so we think. Here’s another thing about Amelia: She had a romantic affair
with Gene Vidal (Gore’s father) while married to G. P. Putnam, the well-known publisher. With the exception of the last, none of these were in the film “Amelia,” nor in spite of a wonderful, perfectly pitched performance by Hillary Swank was the film in any way exciting, tense, tragic or filled with any kind of emotion that you might expect from such a true story.
In fact, “Amelia” is a film so filled with all the wrong things that it’s a wonder we don’t fall asleep by the second hour. She flies, she endorses products, the flies again, she marries Putnam (Richard Gere), she leaves him for Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), she returns to Putnam, she flies almost all the way round the world, she disappears. The end.
Nothing about how she flies, what primitive cockpits were like in the early days of flying, or radio transmissions for that matter, nothing about Purdue University buying her a new Lockheed twin-engine plane for her trip around the world, nothing about why her original plan was to fly east to west (against the trade winds) instead of west to east (with the wind). In other words, we have less than half a life, and a lot less than that for a film about one of the women who changed the way the world thinks about women.
And poor Richard Gere: after a career as one of the sexiest men alive, he’s been castrated for this one; not a hint of sex is allowed between them; the marriage seems to have started in late middle age. Swank does her best with the thin script, using that adorable rabbit-toothed smile at every opportunity, but as someone once said about Oakland, ‘there’s no there there.’ In other words, why make a film about Oakland when you could have made it about San Francisco instead? The word is that the film was ready to release a year ago, but (I assume) wiser heads prevailed, trying to inject some tension into the script. Maybe they should have waited another year.