Back in 2009, when the movie released, I was keen on catching the biopic of Amelia Earhart (July 24, 1897 – disappeared 1937) at the theater and for whatever reason, the plan never materialized. On my usual Friday visit to Phialdelphia's Free Public Library, I came across the DVD waiting for me to pick it up.
Amelia (Hilary Swank) is the story of a rebellious tomboy who despite being discouraged by a male dominated society, never allows anyone to turn her around and goes on to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Naturally, she becomes a trailblazer for women in the aviation industry encouraging competitions for women aviators and also forms the all women's flying team, the Ninety-Nines, honoring the 99 women aviators who had applied to the group. Driven by her saavy publicist, George Putnam aka GP (Richard Gere) whom she eventually marries after much reluctance, she authors numerous books based on her flying expeditions and participates in huge endorsements to raise funding for her expeditions. She also became the first woman to receive the United States Distinguished Flying Cross, honoring her achievements and contribution to the field of aviation. Amelia and Lady Roosevelt also became fast friends sharing a common love for flying.
On her second attempt to circumnavigate the globe in her Lockheed Electra 10E, with her one and only navigator, Fred Noonan (Christopher Eccleston), a pioneer in commercial flights, both of them disappear over the Central Pacific ocean due to poor communication and signals, missing their landing at Howland island. The search for the two aviation pioneers was one of the most biggest and expensive undertaking by the US government, with expenses surging up to USD 4 million. The mystery over their disappearance still remains a question and a source of fascination even today. Many theories have been proposed over the communication and navigation trials that the crew and the air stations may have experienced, which led to the tragedy.
Directed by Mira Nair and co-produced by Hilary Swank, the movie fails to deliver in many aspects. The backdrop, carefully designed wardrobe, crisp editing are commendable; however, Hilary Swank looks unsure, unable to emote and contrived throughout the movie. While Gere delivers his on screen presence with finesse, the chemistry between the two is questionable. The biopic turned out to be a soapy drama of Amelia the woman, rather than Amelia the adventurer, the pioneer of her times.
When you read about Amelia Earhart's life, it certainly leaves an indelible mark on you. The movie, however fails.