Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
Biography Historical Drama
1 hr. 51 min.
Year of Release:
October 23, 2009 (wide—800+ theaters)
DVD: February 2, 2010
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
“Defying the impossible. Living the dream.”
This film is based on the books East to the Dawn by Susan Butler and The Sound of Wings by Mary S. Lovell.
Amelia Earhart has remained a legendary fascination for over 70 years. While the mystery of her disappearance has certainly added intrigue to her status, Earhart was also an extraordinary woman and pilot who helped pioneer the possibility for women to become successful at male-dominated occupations. Because of her contribution, it’s quite disappointing that this film has been so limitedly distributed. The original assigned reviewer, Sheri McMurray, did not have a local showing, and a drive to the opposite side of the city was required for my viewing.
The movie begins with Amelia, embarking on her flying career as the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Because of prejudices, Amelia is forced to simply remain a passenger, while two men pilot. Even though her reputation flourishes, this false achievement weighs heavily on Amelia’s conscience. Undaunted by the obstacles in her way, she remains persistent about piloting her own plane, as she strives to break records. Aggressively helping Amelia advance her career is George Putnam (Richard Gere). As the two spend increasingly amounts of time together, they begin an affair. After turning down several proposals from the love-stricken man, Amelia finally agrees to marry Putnam. Although she does agree, she makes it clear that fidelity and obedience are not part of the agreement. Over the course of several years, George’s devotion to Amelia and her career only grows. While she is appreciative of her husband’s work, Amelia’s first love remains flying, and she also begins an affair with Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor). However, in the last years of their marriage, Amelia has a renewed devotion to her husband and decides to retire from flying after a solo trip around the world.
Hilary Swank is very particular in the roles she takes on. While this results in her not being in many movies, the ones she does star in are almost always spectacular. Her resemblance to Earhart is striking, and her characterization and demeanor are almost exact. Her pairing with Gere is solid, and their screen time is believable. Their chemistry was of the utmost importance, since the film mostly focuses on Amelia and George’s marriage. The film’s characters are well written, with glimpses into Amelia’s kindness and George’s fierce determination to see his wife succeed.
The cinematography is beautiful. A well-written monologue is narrated and dazzling scenery given, as Amelia flies through the different counties. The breathtaking landscapes make it easy to understand her enormous love for soaring through the air. Being outside in nature can serve as a wonderful reminder of God’s majestic work. For God to have created the whole world and its beauty demonstrates his incredible power. And within all this vast beauty, his children matter the most to him. King David wrote of this in Psalm 8:3-4:
When I consider your heavens,
Credit should be given to the writers (Ron Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan) for not taking the usual Hollywood liberty in dramatizing Earhart’s story. Everything remains quite accurate, and the ending is excellently done. While the story’s true, some heart is missing since strongest possible connection to Earhart wasn’t created. The audience is never given the chance of growing alongside Earhart and witnessing how her interest for flying was established or how the root of her passion was planted. Only two flashback scenes are briefly provided to account for Amelia’s allure for flying. This would be the only potential drawback of the film.
The film is rated PG, and parents should use discretion when considering their young children in seeing the film. Adult themes such as adultery and remaining committed run through the film. While there are no sex scenes, they are implied, and she is shown kissing another man who is not her husband. In one scene, her skirt is slightly pushed up and one can see her garter belt. The Lord’s name is profaned four times (3 GDs and 1 “for Christ’s sakes”); there are also several uses of vulgarity (d*mn, h*ll, ass, a**hole).
With the above reservations, I do recommend the film. However, I do not believe very young kids should see it, and they’d likely find the film boring. Like a flight, “Amelia” was at times uneventful. Ultimately, however, it reached its destination in providing a spectacularly-acted glimpse into the life of Amelia Earhart.
Violence: None / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.