Amelia Earhart takes flight in new movie with some minor engine problems

By Natalie Bell


Starring: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor

Directed by Mira… “Amelia”

Starring: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor

Directed by Mira Nair

Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Grade: B-

While “Amelia” did not soar like its aviatrix namesake, it did manage to get off the ground as an interesting biopic of an outstanding woman.

The movie uses Amelia Earhart’s fatal mission, punctuated by vignettes of her journey, to chronicle the life of the legendary aviatrix from a dreamer living in Kansas to the United States’s favorite airborne sweetheart.

Few people’s faces contort in confusion at Earhart’s name, but one can say with fair certainty that most are unaware of the beginnings of Earhart’s celebrity, her personal life and her actual skill level.

“Amelia” successfully shows that the famous flyer was an imperfect, if not utterly charming, individual.

The movie portrays Earhart’s character as a sassy, ambitious girl from Kansas who simply wants to fly.

She strolls into the office of New York publisher George P. Putnam, hoping to reach that goal. Though she is a passenger on her first flight, she pursues her desires.

The theme of perseverance recurs in the movie.

Despite a lack of funds and a publicly poor takeoff attempt, Earhart continues to try.

As her star begins to rise, so do Putnam’s affections for Earhart. In a scene where Earhart lays out the marriage like a business deal, it’s made clear that she doesn’t want to settle.

“Amelia” brushes the surface of an interesting conundrum with the idea that Putnam loves Amelia for reasons that could mean losing her. He adores her for her free spirit, but she makes him promise that if she isn’t happy after a year of marriage, he will let her leave.

Inevitably, Amelia’s sense of adventure and spunk that attracts Putnam to her is also what makes him fear he’ll lose her.

Earhart was not a brilliant pilot.

Granted, she did have technical skills and adequate knowledge. But she was more a flying enthusiast than prodigy.

She had her share of aviation mishaps which made her flights even riskier.

One of the most interesting relationships in the movie is that of Amelia and her friend Gene Vidal, played by Ewan McGregor.

The film explores the rumor that the two were involved in a romantic entanglement.

This demonstrates an important facet of Earhart’s personality — the part that wanted to be free.

Unfortunately, it seems evident that Hollywood added a coat of gloss over the truth when Earhart says she wishes to cut ties and remain faithful to her husband.

Hilary Swank phenomenally captures the quirky magnetism of Earhart, particularly vocally.

Despite occasionally cheesy dialogue and shallow plot, Swank manages to recreate a striking character.

But her co-star Richard Gere gives a lackluster performance as Putnam, which could result from playing a man who seems content to stand out of the spotlight.

At times, Swank and Gere have awkward chemistry, particularly at the beginning of the film.

As the movie continues, however, they muster up the ability to appear more natural in a romantic relationship.

“Amelia” is not overly dramatic, as many biopics of legendary individuals are, but it does seem to have that Hollywood sugar-coated truth to make it neater and more digestible for an audience that wants to come out with its idea of a feminist hero mostly intact.