Finally! The day I’ve been waiting for. TGIAED. Thank God It’s Amelia Earhart Day. Today marks the release of Mira Nair’s Amelia, a biopic on the record-breaking aviatrix herself. And the reviews are…not so great. (Washington Post calls it “historically safe and cinematically dull.”) Roger Ebert implies that this is because Earhart herself was a bit…boring.
That’s the trouble with Amelia Earhart’s life, seen strictly as movie material. What we already know is what we get. To repeat: She was strong, brave and true, she gained recognition for woman flyers, and she looked fabulous in a flight suit. She flew the Atlantic solo, she disappeared in the Pacific, she died too young, and there was no scandal or even an indiscretion. She didn’t even smoke, although Luckys wanted her for an endorsement.
But who cares if she was a prude? It’s Amelia Earhart, the girl crush from my childhood. The flying femme phantom of my fantasies! And Mira Nair! The one who made Denzel famous in Mississippi Masala, brought us Monsoon Wedding and finally gave Kal Penn a serious role in* The Namesake*. Okay, I’ll stop with the hyperbole.
Wondering if there’s any masala in a film about the quintessential American heroine? Well, there’s always some of the garam variety. But according to this review, it doesn’t save the film:
With material like this, what’s a director to do? And not just any director, but the woman recently responsible for a wonderful film called “The Namesake,” and, before it, the richly textured canvas of “Salaam Bombay!” (During the course of that final flight, Amelia and her remarkably dislikable navigator, Fred Noonan, make a refueling stop in Calcutta, which is as richly textured as a pasteboard background in a 1930s B movie.)
Those were Indian films, though, produced mostly on Ms. Nair’s home turf. Given the nature of this one, a star vehicle with an American theme, she may well have been compelled to shoot the script as it was written.
Anyways, if any of you mutineers watches the film this weekend, be sure to let me know in the comments section how you liked it. No spoilers, please! Not that there are any. Because we all know that in the end Amelia lives. At least that’s what my mommy always told me.