Amelia Chases a Dream in the Clouds
- Friday, October 23, 2009
The film is at its best when it shows how Earhart's pursuit of her goals take her away from the man who helped launch her career and then made her his wife. Putnam's pain at the discovery of Earhart's infidelity is moving (and shows that Gere, after this film and Unfaithful, is getting quite good at playing the aggrieved spouse), and his desire to see Earhart leave behind her obsessive pursuit of aviation is touching. Yet even Gere's performance, with an accent that comes and goes, is somewhat problematic, and comes far short of making the film worth seeing. Further exploration of Putnam's ruthless business savvy, building on his comments to Earhart early in the film ("This is America—I'm obligated to make as much money as I can," and "ownership is the trump card" in business pursuits) would have been more interesting than watching him turn into a love-struck, emasculated spouse.
Considering the talent involved, Amelia should have been better. Director Mira Nair's previous film, The Namesake, was both sumptuous and meaningful, while her earlier Monsoon Wedding was a vibrant, multicultural celebration. Here Nair has taken on a quintessentially American story, with refrains that are meant to be inspiring—"Who wants a life imprisoned in safety?" and "Everyone has oceans to fly"—but which instead come across as empty. The film's best qualities are its sometimes lush visuals (by Stuart Dryburgh) and an aggressive but sometimes lovely score by Gabriel Yared—neither of which will be enough to keep audience members from flying for the exits as soon as the credits roll, if not earlier.
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- Language/Profanity: Lord's name taken in vain; "go--amn" and multiple instances of foul language.
- Smoking/Drinking/Drugs: A few scenes of drinking and smoking; an endorsement deal for cigarettes; a navigator with a drinking problem says it's never interfered with his work, but under the influence of alcohol, he propositions Earhart.
- Sex/Nudity: Kissing; Earhart sleeps with Putnam and Vidal; shot of her sitting by bed after sex, with sheets turned back, and Putnam shown without his shirt on, she in a nightie.
- Violence/Crime: Plane crash footage.
- Marriage/Family: Earhart marries reluctantly, then has an affair but returns to her husband; Earhart says she won't hold her husband to a medieval code of faithfulness, and that he shouldn't expect the same from her; during wedding vows, she says she can't abide the "obey" part; a betrayed husband finds his wife's love letter to another man, and reads it back to her.
- Religion: Earhart asks Putnam to pray for her, and when he says he's not much of a praying man, she asks him to tip his hat and cross his fingers; exclamations such as "Praise be!" and "Glory, hallelujah!" after a major accomplishment; when Earhart insists on flying through bad weather, a character tells her, "In a monsoon, you need divine help."
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