Press "Enter" to skip to content

Review: Amelia (2009)

Amelia (2009) 

Directed by: Mira Nair

Premise: A biopic of female pilot Amelia Earhart (Hilary Swank).

What Works: The look of the film is mostly successful in its costume and set design, giving a sense of the time period.

What Doesn’t: Amelia is a very clumsy film in its production and storytelling. The editing in particular is awkward and the sound quality is not very good. The character work is also subpar. The actors deliver phoned in performances, especially Richard Gere as George Putnam, Earhart’s husband and publicist. There is no heat to their relationship and when Earhart begins an affair with Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor) it is equally sparkless. Amelia succumbs to one of the major pitfalls of biographical storytelling in that it recapitulates a lot of historical incidents but they don’t add up to anything. As a result, the film is a collection of anecdotes about Earhart’s life, but the film reaches no conclusion about what this all means. The closest it gets is a vague statement about the value of taking chances and standing up to opposition, but Amelia does not do much to dramatize those values in the course of the film. There is nothing at stake here; the film attempts to interweave multiple themes such as the physical risk of flying, the hope that Earhart symbolizes for Depression-era America, and the obstacles facing women, but the film fails to make any of that exciting or dramatic.

Bottom Line: Amelia is a disappointment. It has very little to offer those interested in Amelia Earhart as a pilot or as a feminist and as a film too much of it is sub par to recommend it.

Episode: #265 (November 15, 2009)