'Amelia' - Guest Review

Review of 'Amelia' by Joanr16

Superficially at least, Amelia puts me in mind of Elizabeth, minus the sex and violence: powerful female lead; various types of self-interested men in her orbit; tweaked history; showy costumes; soaring cinematography.

The script is another matter, and I tend to agree with the critics who say Amelia, overall, falls short of the mark.

Random thoughts about Eccleston's performance: both MacGregor and Gere are forced to chew his dust; he needs to practice his American vowel sounds a bit more; and nobody, but nobody, does a better drunken leer than our Chris.

I would be absolutely thrilled if he's nominated for big prizes for this performance, but I guess we'll have to wait and see on that. Those things are so political.

Sometimes I need to see a film two or three times to get the full impact, but for the most part my first impressions of the overall film, and even of Swank's performance, do agree with the critics. There was something almost... mannequin-esque about Swank's Amelia, at least compared to her Oscar-winning performances, which were raw and intense.

And I acknowledge that the story's ending, now a 72-year-old legend known throughout the world, would be hard to get right. But after several tense minutes of frustrating radio exchanges between Earhart and the ship Itasca, with the fear and desperation plain on Swank and Eccleston's faces, the film just sort of peters out. (Although I suppose the alternative would have to involve the various speculations as to what became of the plane and its occupants, which probably is a terrible idea.)

Fred Noonan's own story was so sad, I find myself agreeing completely with the reviewer who said Fred should've had his own movie. Noonan really was something of a genius navigator (essentially a mathematician), until his alcoholism ruined his reputation (I may be the victim of "received ignorance," for all the Earhart bios I've read over the years put forward the notion of his alcoholism; whereas perhaps Noonan, himself, was the victim of a whispering campaign.)

He took the extremely high-profile but poorly-planned Earhart flight in the desperate hope of restoring his name and career. That's the kind of character CE can play like a symphony; in Amelia we get a few short bursts of a Yo-Yo Ma cello solo, but that's all. Add the fact that Earhart's own father was an alcoholic, and you see lots of missed opportunities. (I'm starting to imagine what a two-person stage play might have been like, starring Eccleston and Swank. Eccleston could have explored Fred's desperation, and Swank could have thrown her heart into Amelia, the way she did with Brandon Teena.)

I'm sure many people will love Amelia, and they're certainly not wrong to do so. It has wonderful cinematography and editing. Swank has that eerie-resemblance thing going. And the film's heart is absolutely in the right place, even if its head may be a little woozy.

One last thought: returning to the Amelia/Elizabeth comparison. Both films starred two of the world's greatest actresses, and among all the men in their orbits, Eccleston was the one actor who truly held his own opposite them. (Well, him and Geoffrey Rush. Nobody messes with Geoffrey.)

Well done, CE.



chiclit said...

Nice review-and you make some excellent points-particularly the connection between Amelia and Elizabeth. I had recently rewatched Elizabeth and it never occured to me that there were similiarities. To take the interesting discussion about Oscar winning actresses even further-CE more than held his own on screen with Kate Winslet and Nicole Kidman in other films. I personally believe he saved Renee Zwelleger's performance in Price Above Rubies by providing some much needed spark and snark. I have long felt Eccleston inspires co-stars to stronger performances-Billie Piper and John Barrowman being prime examples, also.

joanr16 said...

Winslet, Kidman, Zellweger, Swank, Blanchett... I think of these as "Eccleston's magazine-cover women." We may have to wait a long time before we see him on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, but he's sure helped make all these actresses look good at one time or another.

After seeing Amelia I've had a hankering to rewatch Elizabeth myself... I just need to find the time.

Hedgehog said...

(quote='chiclit')"I have long felt Eccleston inspires co-stars to stronger performances-Billie Piper and John Barrowman being prime examples, also."

Yea, I've made the same observation - got used to referring to it as "slipstream effect" ;-)