We may not know the fate of famed aviator Amelia Earhart when she flew into the sunset somewhere over the Pacific in 1937. However, there's no ques tion that her film biography, "Ame lia," is dead on arrival at area theaters. Trouble is evident in the opening scenes where a tragically miscast Rich - ard Gere becomes entangled in an at - tempted Bobby Kennedy Boston accent as George Palmer ("G.P.") Put nam, publisher and Ear hart's P.T. Bar num promoter/husband. The accent comes and goes. Mostly, it goes.
Then, there is Hilary Swank as Ame - lia herself. The acclaimed actress struggles for historical accuracy, but comes off stiffer than a Disney-world robot. Directed by Mira Nair (better with such Bollywood classics as "The Name sake" or "Mississippi Mas ala"), "Amelia" makes the mistake of dehumanizing a legendary icon. Amelia was apparently a "swinger," including in her marriage vows to G.P., the words, "I shall not hold you to any medieval code of faithfulness to me. Nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly." While that may have been written, it's doubtful that she spoke so formally to her husband in private. Screenwriters Ron Bass and Anna Ham ilton Phelan would have us believe she did.
Her open marriage involves trysts with author Gore Vidal's dad, Gene (Ewan McGregor), sometimes at the Put nam country estate under the nose of G.P. himself. Yet, emotions never ex - plode. True or not, it makes for a dramatically flat film. What we do get to see is a paint-by-numbers, picturepostcard chronology of Earhart's gender bend ing flights and her shameless ex ploitation of commercial products in the name of womankind. Earhart isn't too happy to sell out, but she loves to fly and this is the way to pay for it.
Swank in her leather jacket and jumpsuit attire looks the part, without showing what churns within as she does so successfully in her Oscar-wining roles ("Boys Don't Cry" and "Million Dollar Baby"). Her leaden "Amelia" never gets off the ground.