Reviewed by: Leanne McGrath

Retelling the life of legendary pilot Amelia Earhart, who disappeared over the Pacific in 1937 during her bid to become the first pilot to circumnavigate the globe, this biopic should be perfect - it stars one of Hollywood’s finest actresses and is helmed by a smart, talented director. But instead of soaring it fails to take off.

It spans about a decade, during which Earhart completes her first trans-Atlantic flight in 1928 to her disappearance in 1937.

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The pilot was a rarity, a pioneering feminist dominating the male aviation world. Her story is perfect for director Mira Nair, who superbly told the stories of similar women in Monsoon Wedding and Vanity Fair.

But Nair fails to explain what drove Earhart to fly or to capture her love of flight in the way Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator did for Howard Hughes. The script is weak, relying heavily on travelogue-style scenes of Earhart’s flights, passages from her diaries and newsreel footage and headlines. It also tiptoes around her rumoured bisexuality and affair with aviation pioneer Gene Vidal (father of author Gore).

Hilary Swank’s performance falls well short of her Oscar-winning turns in Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby. She is a dead-ringer for Earhart but she never captures the woman behind the toothy grin she constanty sports. What were Earhart’s loves, fears and flaws?

Richard Gere is too old to convince as her husband and publicist George Putnam, while Ewan McGregor is wooden as her lover Vidal.

But the movie does have some strong points. The cinematography, period detail and costumes are stunning and could earn it the Oscars it craves. Overall, this is a disappointing movie about an incredible woman.

Reviewed on: 10 Nov 2009
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Biopic of pilot Amelia Earhart.

Director: Mira Nair

Writer: Ronald Bass, Anna Hamilton Phelan, Susan Butler, Mary S. Lovell

Starring: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston

Year: 2009

Runtime: 111 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US, Canada


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If you like this, try:

The Aviator