My Rating: 7/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 87% Certified Fresh
PLOT: Martin Scorsese presents a biopic depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes’ career from the late 1920s to the mid 1940s.
WHY IT’S HERE:
Martin Scorsese’s passion for the story, for Howard Hughes, and for the craft of filmmaking itself is evident in every single frame of “The Aviator”. He elicits a startling performance from Leonardo DiCaprio. He makes nearly 3 hours fly by without ever feeling overlong. He recreates the period with tender loving care, down to mimicking the way color films would have looked in the ’20s and ’30s (note how peas and the green grass of a golf course appear blue in early sections of the film). He gets an Oscar-winning performance from Cate Blanchett, doing an absolutely dead-on impersonation of Katherine Hepburn.
So…what’s not to like, right?
I give the movie a seven based on the display of artistry, the technical brilliance of the film. But there’s something missing on the emotional level. This is one of my favorite “sub-genres” of film, the life story of a man in search of himself, in search of some way to PROVE himself. (i.e., “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Amadeus”, “Malcolm X”, “Ray”, etc.) I really want to get INTO the story of Howard Hughes, because it’s clear that Scorsese cares a great deal about that story. But I watch the movie, and despite the way it breezes through boatloads of information, despite how pleasant it is to watch actors at the top of their game, I feel…nothing.
There’s no hook for me. I can’t explain it. I just can’t get worked up over this particular story. That Hughes lived most (if not all) of his life in the grip of formidable mental problems is undeniable, and my heart would normally go out to a character like that. But with “The Aviator”, it just doesn’t work on that level. Not for me. And it’s a little frustrating, because the artisanship of this movie is unparalleled. So where’s its heart? Where’s the tugging at the heartstrings so evident in so many other similar films?
I don’t know. I can’t explain my reaction to this film. I can only report it. Maybe someone else can explain it.