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   THE AVIATOR (2004) 

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CAST
Leonardo DiCaprio
Cate Blanchett
John C. Reilly
Kate Beckinsale
Alec Baldwin
Alan Alda
Ian Holm
Danny Huston
Matt Ross
Adam Scott
Kelli Garner

DIRECTED BY
Martin Scorcese

PURCHASE


DVD






Time: 170 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama

Won Academy Awards for Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Film Editing, Art Direction and Costume Design. Nominations for Best Actor (DiCaprio), Supporting Actor (Alda), Director, Sound, Original Screenplay and Best Picture.


Scorcese is a masterful storyteller who always manages to draw out the best in his cast and crew and this film is no exception. The only trouble with THE AVIATOR is the tale itself. I went in to the film knowing that Howard Hughes was a millionaire, an aeronautical genius, a film producer, a womanizer and, eventually, a deranged recluse. While parts of this cinematic journey are exciting and entrancing, the film as a whole never makes him more than the sum of his endearing, intelligent and delusional parts. There's just too much ground to cover and the story moves to quickly to allow for much meandering in the deep end of the character pool. The only scenes that show more than Hughes's illness or bravado are the ones with illumination his relationship with Hepburn. Though they are larger than life figures, one really gets the sense of their inner complexities during their few stolen moments.

The first half of the film concentrates on Hughes' early career in pictures and in the sky and DiCaprio makes his enthusiasm for both utterly infectious. He makes you believe, despite his eccentricities, that this is a man who's going somewhere, who can create anything he sets his mind to. We initially revel in his accomplishments and desperately want him to succeed; however, as the film progresses the experience becomes mostly like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Since Hughes could neither control nor find treatment for his OCD, then an unknown malady, you start to feel sorry for him instead of excited by his ideas. Once he begins to spiral out of control the film loses its' vitality and purpose, turning into an uncomfortable illustration of his personal misery. His desire to both conquer the world and escape from it pull him apart and nothing, neither the innumerable ladies nor his love of flying, is enough to eradicate his fears.


"If you let him testify at that hearing, the whole world will see what he's become. They should remember him for what he was."

The destruction of his body and his aviation dreams practically drive him over the edge for good. Only the power of the government and his overwhelming pride pull him back to reality. At least for a time. This false hope generates some needed energy in the film's final half hour. Unfortunately, we all know what's coming and the knowledge of his lonely, desperate future fails to generate the good will necessary to make this picture one to truly enjoy. THE AVIATOR is certainly one of the best-produced pictures of the year, capturing great performances by DiCaprio and Blanchett and bringing to life a magical time in Hollywood and aviation history. However, while wonderful to look at with some truly awesome visual effects, it is ultimately a rather superficial telling of a very complex man's life and dreams.


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