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"Amelia" (my 0-10 rating: 8) Genre: Biography, Drama. Director: Mira Nair. Screenplay: Ronald Bass, Anna Hamilton Phelan, based on the books "East to the Dawn" by Susan Butler and "The Sound of Wings" by Mary S. Lovell. Cast: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston Time: 1 hr., 51 min. Rating: PG (some sexuality, vulgarity) A fine and continuously entertaining, if not inspirational, life story, depicted with superb and measured visual design. "Amelia," about the incomparably courageous "lady of the air" Amelia Earhart (July 24, 1897 - missing July 2, 1937) is a film which, from a historical biography viewpoint, is illuminating enough, but from an involving director's grip on the most absorbing methods of film audience engagement, it's outstanding. For sure, it doesn't allow itself the time to go in-depth with Amelia. But events in themselves are so impressive in the woman's life that her magnificent human drive toward destiny is fuel for most of the film's life force. It moves at a lively, flawlessly paced clip with a superb sense of its own rhythm, with director Mira Nair exerting a precisely timed gait into a carefully crafted finale. It was the most daring mission ever for the great lady of the air on that summer day in 1937. Creating an inspiration for women everywhere in the world, she had already done what were considered unimaginable flight feats for women. Amelia Earhart (July 24, 1897 - missing July 2, 1937), the outspoken, legendary "goddess of light" had thrilled the hearts of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt as well as the men who had held faith in her; her husband, promoter and publishing magnate George P. Putnam and her long time friend and lover, pilot and West Point instructor Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor). In 1928, having made her amazing flight as the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, she was now America's sweetheart, her personal charisma and driving boldness in courting danger fascinating the public. Her promoter will soon be George Putnam (Richard Gere), the New York publisher who vaulted Charles Lindbergh into bestselling status and now angles to make a mint on this very media-attractive female flyer. Even as George admonishes Amelia not to court frustration by this male-cynical public, her indomitable resolve will lead her to become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, although it was as a passenger assistant-pilot, propelling her to star status as "Lady Lindy." She hits the lecture circuit before adoring young women and teenagers, and then in advertising, all


of which fund her next adventures. George will be her love, but his marriage proposal is accepted with deep doubts arising over the fear that marriage will interfere with her flying career (she insists that the preacher's line "... love, honor and obey..." be spoken without the "obey"). Not helping along the way is her romantic interest in aeronautics professor Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), the father of a 5-year-old Gore Vidal. The film sadly avoids any real depth to this relationship. Invigorating electricity in this love triangle never really surfaces. Hilary Swank does a reasonably serviceable performance with a Kansas-affected accent, with acceptably inspiring words (about the broad expanses of ocean: "A beautiful place where everything is comprehensible") and many assertions of the primacy of freedom in a woman's life. The film's spectacular panoramas of the great skies, seas and mountains let it pulsate with Amelia's feeling of unity with them. Boozy Fred Noonan (Christopher Eccleston), the otherwise skillful navigator who, on that final solo flight in Amelia's flight around the world, was fated to disappear forever along with her, is played with a canny subtlety in which there is chemistry but no sizzle. In that Lockheed L-10 Electra, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island when radio contact from the base proved faulty, depriving her of critical location data. The final tense moments offer ample portrayal of Amelia Earhart's mighty claim to immortality. Come and enjoy this, then later you can nit-pick.

Marty Meltz, http://www.martymoviereviews.com, was the 30-year films critic for the multiple Award-Winning Maine Sunday Telegram until end of 2007 when his column was terminated in budget cuts.

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