The film, Amelia, starring Hilary Swank as Amelia Earhart, weaves together adventure scenes of her historic flights along with grounding connections with her husband, publisher George Putnam, and her lover, a WestPoint flight instructor named Gene Vidal (Gore’s Father).
Amelia once said that her daddy had a wanderlust that kept her moving, and that flying kept her moving in three directions when she did aerial spins in her plane. She also kept moving between two key men in her love life, yet she was honest upfront about her desire to have “no borders, only horizons, only freedom.”
When her much older boyfriend and promoter George, played by Richard Gere, saw her flirting with his handsome competitor Gene, played by Ewan McGreagor, George proposed marriage to Amelia.
Thinking that she couldn’t endure the confinements of George’s attractive cage, Amelia told him she would not hold him to the medieval code of faithfulness to her.
He sighed, “Only you could say those brutal words to me, and still make me want to be with you.”
Sadly, the passion that inspired his words never sparked romantic chemistry onscreen. Amelia seemed to be a shiny trophy he desired yet never could win in a soulful connection.
Her lover experienced the same challenge in this film biopic. There was little chemistry in scenes between Hilary Swank and Ewan McGreagor. The director, Mira Nair, gave us a superficial glimpses of stiffly glamorous actors in period costumes. We couldn’t see the inner fire that drew them together intimately and inspired them to team up on a business venture.
Hilary showed us how Amelia formed a tender bond with the boy who played young Gore Vidal. She expressed tender feelings for her husband when they said, “See Ya,” each time she departed for a risky flight. Then she left a love letter that she wrote to Gene where her husband could find it.
Her relationship risks seem cold and heartless. Her flight risks gained world acclaim. Her husband clearly knew what was most important to her when he called himself a small particle of stardust in her constellation.
Film audiences will sense that Amelia was more alive and fulfilled in flight than with her husband or lover. This is why Amelia soars as she fulfills her flight dreams but sinks with a dull portrait of her romantic relationships.
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