- Martin Scorsese
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Martin Scorsese has chose to tell the tale of young Howard, from his earlier years as an entrepreneur to his most glorious days in aviation. Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) was an anxious man from the get-go, but with enough energy and dreams to make up for the mental wounds he carried since his childhood. The film starts during the filming of Hughes’ Hell’s Angels, up to then the most expensive movie ever made, which also showed the filmmaker’s love for airplanes. Hughes’ life went on as a mixture of love of cinema and love of aviation, and was also adorned by his exuberant way of life, his absent, busy mind, his growing deafness, and his love of women.
John Logan’s script takes us from one episode of Hughes’ life to another like the rollercoaster that was his existence. There was sweeping romance, thrilling adventure, gripping action, and excruciating madness all around. And even though it does avoid monotony, the movie seems overlong. However, it’s interesting at every turn, and effective as a biopic. Plus, it offers loads of pleasure to film buffs, with an impressive resuscitation of movie stars, namely Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) who, according to the film, was Hughes’ true love.
Focusing on the millionaire’s many conflicts, as Kate Hepburn’s lover, as Pan Am’s competitor (with a personal conflict with Juan Trippe, played by Alec Baldwin), as a man questioned by the law (especially Maine Senator Ralph Owen Brewster, played by Alan Alda), and as a prisoner of his own anxieties, The Aviator knows how to tell its tale, and does so magnificently.
The exquisite rendering of time and place sure helps: Photographed as color movies were in each period, with gorgeous costume and production design, atmospheric music to accompany (composed of both period pieces and an inspired score by Howard Shore), and an overall sense of awe, it’s simply amazing.
The performances are also top-notch. There aren’t enough words to describe DiCaprio’s performance. He plays a perfect Howard Hughes: Charming at times, nasty at others, and even disgusting under some circumstances. DiCaprio carries a heavy movie over his shoulders and does so without a problem, and his complex, intense, unforgettable performance is one of the greatest of 2004 (of course some more makeup would’ve helped make his aging process more believable, but at least his performance is not to blame).
Matching him is Cate Blanchett as Kate Hepburn, who made me shiver more than once, since I felt I was really seeing that legendary actress in action once again. The way she managed to recreate Hepburn’s unique way of laughing, talking, walking, and behaving all in all, is a magnificent achievement. Heck she almost outshines DiCaprio!
The other standout is Alan Alda, in an all-star supporting cast comprised by such people as John C. Reilly, Ian Holm, Kate Beckinsale (as Ava Gardner), Jude Law (as Errol Flynn), Willem Dafoe, etc.
The Aviator is an astonishing film… It offers so many things, it’s unbelievable.
“She’ll go faster.”
Gon C Curiel en Twitter | CriticSociety en Twitter | CriticSociety en Facebook
Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter
Other reviews of The Aviator (2004): Morris