What must it have been like for Amelia Earhart to experience the freedom of the skies at a time when a woman’s options on the ground were so limited? Mira Nair’s movie gives a few hints at the exhilaration of open flight, with no tethers to the earth except the crackle of the radio. She also reminds us just how primitive and rickety the aircraft of the 1930s were; in this movie, they seem like go-karts with wings. No wonder Earhart’s bravery continues to inspire.
Hilary Swank, once again, is a tragic tomboy, a trailblazing woman who tries something few other women have dared to do and gets a cosmic smackdown for her ambitiousness. Still, she makes it clear that flying is what she was born to do, and no amount of warnings from her generally supportive husband (Richard Gere) or anyone else will keep her tied down. Nair makes Amelia’s ultimate disappearance into a blue dream seem tragic but also spiritual, as if she finally realized her dream by ascending into the heavens.