The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

YOU CAN’T deny that Hi­lary Swank does look a lit­tle like Amelia Earhart. Both ac­tor and avi­a­tor have (or had) the same an­drog­y­nous en­ergy and air of gawky dis­com­fort.

Sadly, Mira Nair, di­rec­tor of Salaam Bom­bay and Mon­soon Wed­ding, has de­cided to power her biopic on phys­i­cal re­sem­blance alone. Set­ting the con­trols to in­dus­try-stan­dard au­topi­lot – key life mo­ments in­ter­spersed with news­reels and con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous pop songs – Nair sends her ve­hi­cle put­ter­ing pa­thet­i­cally to­wards mid­dle-brow obliv­ion.

There is, it hardly needs to be said, an in­ter­est­ing story to be told here. Raised in Kansas around the turn of the 20th cen­tury, Earhart some­how (don’t look to the film for an­swers) be­came the coun­try’s most dis­tin­guished fe­male avi­a­tor and an ar­tic­u­late ad­vo­cate for woman’s rights. Amelia is, how­ever, so un­der­pow­ered that few view­ers hith­erto un­aware of the sub­ject’s achieve­ments will feel the urge to re­search fur­ther.

Shot in Werther’s Orig­i­nal rus­set, fea­tur­ing clothes and props that all seem to have been plucked spot­less from the box, this dull film com­prises a se­ries of hur­ried, sketchy in­ci­dents, none of which leads con­vinc­ingly unto the next.

At least two of the breath­lessly dis­missed sub­plots – Amelia’s friend­ship with Eleanor Roo­sevelt and her close­ness to Wash­ing­ton op­er­a­tor Gene Vi­dal and his young son, Gore – could have formed the ba­sis for cleaner, more di­gestible films. In­stead, the pic­ture wastes time de­tail­ing the un­likely ro­mance be­tween Earhart and pro­moter Ge­orge Put­nam (Richard Gere).

It seems, de­spite var­i­ous in­fi­deli­ties, that Earhart and Put­nam even­tu­ally achieved a kind of con­tent­ment in real life. But Hi­lary Swank and Richard Gere? Emerg­ing from dif­fer­ent eras, with wildly dif­fer­ent styles, the two ac­tors go to­gether like a palm tree goes with a ce­ment mixer.

They do try hard. Swank flashes that equine smile. Gere, as al­ways, con­veys emo­tion by a nearimper­cep­ti­ble wag of the head. But both must know they are, well, lost at sea.


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