After seeing Amelia, you can only assume one of two things: That Amelia Earhart herself was an insipid, uninspiring woman or that filmmaker Mira Nair just blew it.
I think we can all draw the same conclusion.
How did this film go so far afoul? You have a talented director (I loved Nair’s The Namesake), a perfectly cast Hilary Swank as Earhart, and the kind of subject matter that seems destined to land on critic’s Top 10 lists.
But Nair made the classic mistake. She was so concerned with mimesis—yes, Swank looks like Earhart, the aviator-chic clothing is spiffy, and the planes look sufficiently rickety—that she didn’t bother with story. You can’t just present us with the details of Earhart’s life. You have to show us what drove her, what gave her lift off.
Instead, Earhart is depicted as an earnest, cheery lady who simply wants to fly. She wants to be free, she says over and over again. She wants to soar like a bird, roam like the buffalo. Oh, how I wish I was making this up.
“It was a night of stars. Of tropical loveliness,”...