It’s opening day for Amelia and Motherhood.
I am out of town today at a meeting so here are truncated reviews of both films. I will have an interview with Katherine Dieckmann writer and director of Motherhood next week.
Amelia Earhart is one of those women in history who fascinates. She broke every boundary and convention for a woman in her time. Hilary Swank takes on the role of Amelia as a woman who just wants to fly and be free in a time when women were literally grounded. She wore pants, refused to say obey in the vows at her wedding, and didn’t take her husband and promoter George Putman’s name. It was exciting to watch the story of a woman who was one of the first real celebrities ever, who because she did things and lived the way she did made it easier for everyone who came after her. There are not many women who can say that. I kept waiting for the film to soar like Amelia herself but it got bogged down in a sappy love story between Amelia and Putman (played by Richard Gere). And speaking of Swank and Gere, in real life Earhart and Putman were only 10 years apart, but in the film there is 25 years between the actors (not cool). Even though you know what happens (well no one really knows what happened exactly) the last ten minutes when they are flying over the pacific looking for Howland island are nail biting and it made me for once wish for a happy Hollywood ending. Film is directed by Mira Nair and it has a wonderful score by Gabriel Yared. (Opens on 800 screens in most cities.)
Writer/director Katherine Dieckmann wanted to make Motherhood because there were no “decent “comedies about mothers. So she took pieces from her own life and added Uma Thurman as Eliza a harried mommy blogger desperate to regain her writing voice and herself, and we have Motherhood. I respect that Dieckmann tried to show the realities of one day in an urban mom’s life, focusing on the mundane issues that women go through on a day in and day out basis that grind on you and suck out your creativity. Eliza is desperate to regain the edge she had before kids yet no matter how hard she struggles, the lists she creates, or even how early she gets up, she is only able to catch a few minutes here or there for her and her writing. The film illuminates the frustrations women face but I kind of wish she would have left out the whole Eliza as a mommy blogger storyline. I think that the problem was that between when the movie was made and released mommy blogging and blogging in general has exploded. As a blogger and a person who knows lots of mommy bloggers, blogging is a serious endeavor to all of us. It’s not something you do in the 10 seconds you have between laundry loads just so you can have written something. That being said, one of the film’s strengths is that it is able to show the joys and challenges of being a certain type of woman today (white, middle class, educated) who was promised lots of opportunities yet still feels held back. I’m sure there are lots of women who will relate to it. (Opens on 35 screens in NY, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston.) Also if you buy your ticket through Fandango, $1 will go to the Susan G. Komen Fund for breast cancer research.
This interview of Nair comes courtesy of the folks at MakingOf a behind the scenes look at how movies are made: