Mira Nair’s Amelia Earhart biopic Amelia will easily be criticized for simply being the kind of film that it is. And you’ll know the type from the very opening, when an awestruck pubescent Amelia Earhart stands in a golden wheat field, brushing her hands against the whipping grains, staring up at the sky with dewdrop eyes while a voiceover states elegiacally, “When I saw that little plane, it lifted me above the Kansas prairie.” Yes, we’re in glittering, hagiographic territory, ripe with nostalgia: every time a plane soars, the traditional score by Gabriel Yared will swell; scenes will frequently dissolve to “inspiring” blinding brightness; many suited men will explicitly tell Amelia (Hillary Swank) that her dreams of flying around the world, by Jove, “cannot be done!” which she’ll refute with can-do cheeriness.
Yet just because Amelia will be dismissed by many solely on its tacit admission of its own old-fashioned genre makeup doesn’t mean it deserves sympathy, despite its good-natured deployment of these tropes. Amelia comes across as the kind of dispassionate Hollywood “property” that was made with little interest or fervor and that only in retrospect forces its makers to backpedal and wax rhapsodically about how inspired they were by its subject. Click here to read the rest of Michael Koresky’s review of Amelia.