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Film Review - Mira Nair unable to keep Amelia airborne

A director in Hollywood must have their own ideas and be able to rely on their resourcefulness to see a project through.  For Award-winning helmer Mira Nair [MNAIR] working within mainstream Hollywood has dulled her unique niche. Unfortunately, Nair’s latest film Amelia [AMELA], falls short of expectations, but stands as an event in the director’s career. 


Nair started out directing documentaries but came onto the scene with 1988’s Salaam Bombay, which received a Foreign Film Oscar nomination.  She then detailed issues of race and displacement in 1991’s Mississippi Masala starring Denzel Washington [DWASH].  Nair went on to display her directing gifts in Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair starring Reese Witherspoon [RWITH] and The Namesake.


When Shantaram fell through due to the writer’s strike, Nair was approached to direct Amelia, starring none other than two-time Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank [HSWAN].  A director who concentrates on race and diversity issues agreed to direct a biographical drama about an all-American icon and women’s champion. 


So, what exactly did Nair do with the subject of Amelia Earhart?   The film does not present too much in the way of a personal, well-rounded portrait, but rather a painstaking dedication to historical facts.  In Nair’s hands, one gets an accurate but rather unemotional idea of how exhilarating and dangerous the early days of the aviation industry truly was.


Swank does a credible job with the character of Amelia and it is easy to see that the actress possessed many of the traits the icon probably had.  Those things are determination, dreaming, daring and the nerve to push the envelope.  Swank’s Amelia was a good-natured sport who cared above all to fly, even when her svengali husband George Putnam, played by Richard Gere [RGERE], turned her into a promotional object to finance their high-flying life.


The best thing about the film is Nair’s treatment of the love story between Amelia and her husband.  The union started out with Putnam shaping Earhart into a public figure but turned into a poignant story when the two come together over her passion for circumnavigating the world.  The love story becomes tragic as one knows that Earhart will never return from the flight her dedicated husband worked so hard to make possible. 


Most every other aspect of the film is a tried tactic in the biopic genre from her affair with Gene Vidal, played by Ewan McGregor [EMCGR] to her relationship with navigator Fred Noonan, played by Christopher Eccleston [CECCL]. 


The cinematography is truly gorgeous with the coast of South Africa serving as the many locales Earhart visited in her life.  The film also packs a good deal of history for flying enthusiasts and history buffs bringing the early 1930s to life in resplendent fashion. 


While Amelia might not be a huge stretch for its competent cast of Swank, Gere and McGregor, director Mira Nair has crossed a personal mark for herself. 


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By HSXniknak on Friday, October 23, 2009 @ 04:08 PM 3591 views

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