American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
I am drawn to every news story about the attempts, which still continue, to solve the mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance on July 2, 1937. It's pretty clear she ditched at sea, but you just never know. Those clues found on a Pacific atoll are tantalizing. It is not her disappearance but her life that fascinates me.
She was strong, brave and true, and she looked fabulous in a flight suit. No ladylike decorum for her; before she wed publisher George Putnam, she wrote him their marriage would have "dual controls," and said neither one should feel bound to "a medieval code of faithfulness." Maybe she was keeping a loophole for Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), the founder of TWA and father of Gore, who told his son he loved her but didn't marry her "because I didn't want to marry a boy."
Hilary Swank uncannily embodies my ideas about Earhart in Mira Nair's "Amelia." She looks like her, smiles like here, evokes her. Swank is an actress who doesn't fit in many roles, but when she's right, she's right. The tousled hair, the freckles, the slim figure, the fitness, the physical carriage that says, "I know precisely who I am and I like it -- and if you don't, bail out." Not only was she the first person after Lindbergh to fly solo across the Atlantic, she even looked like him.
"Amelia" tells this story with sound performances and impeccable period detail. It deals with her final flight so accurately that many of the radio transmissions between her and the Coast Guard cutter Itasca, stationed off Howland Island, are repeated verbatim. (They could hear her but she couldn't hear them.) It ends on exactly the correct note. As Red River Dave sang in the lyrics of the first song ever broadcast on U.S. television: