Monday, January 24, 2005

The Aviator

Continuing Golden Globe weekend, next on my list was Martin Scorceses 'The Aviator'.

7 years since the crazed media scrum of Titanic pigeon-holedLeonardo DiCaprio into an actors worst nightmare - that of being famous for your looks rather than talent - the young Hollywood kid seems finally to have completed his rehabilitation. After hiding away for 18 months his return in The Beach was a tremendous failure, damaging him even more amidst rumours that script changes were down to the actors own selfishness. However, with three successful movies in a row under his belt, maybe it's time to reassess the boy who emerged from River Pheonix's shadow. After all, he is now 30 years old!

The Aviator is the story of Howard Hughes, or rather, the story of Howard Hughes from 1925 to 1947. The decision to avoid detailing the final reclusive years of Hughes' life is a sound one, as through careful and poignant scripting Scorcese and John Logan has been able to capture the slow descent of the titular character into obsessive compulsive disorder.

As a movie, The Aviator is remarkable, kicking off with the story of the infamous Hells Angels shoot. Hughes redefined the movie industry with some of the most thrilling aerial combat scenes ever witnessed. Here they are marvelously reproduced and spliced in with original footage, to give an almost documentary feel to the films early stages.

The success of Angels saw Hughes propelled into the Hollywood elite, and as a result, into the arms of a string of Hollywood actresses. Cate Blanchett is remarkable as Kathryn Hepburn, coping well with re-creating one of Hollywoods most eccentric leading ladies. Hepburn was undoubtedly one of the great driving forces behind Hughes, although the film occasionally stutters when trying to deal with the relationships rather than the more thrilling business in the air.

Meanwhile, DiCaprio gives a meteoric performance. Easily his best since The Basketball Diaries, he is in almost every scene, which is a feat in itself for any actor. The obsessiveness in his characters personality is subtly covered until, inevitably, the story moves on to Hughes' first breakdown. Locked in his screening room, alone, trapped by a fear of everything, DiCaprio paints a haunting figure.

Amongst the co-stars, John Reilly and Ian Holm deserve special mention for their roles as two of the few friends Hughes has amongst thousands of hangers on.

Culminating in the one and only flight of Hughes' infamous Hercules (otherwise known as the Spruce Goose), the movie finds a fitting finale, offering us foreboding for what is to come, rather than showing us those final drug-addled years. Arguments will rage over how little DiCaprio looks like Howard Hughes, but in the end, it is the performance that counts. In Howard Hughes, DiCaprio has finally found his maturity.

The Aviator: 9/10


Anonymous said...

DiCaprio sucks ass!

Nige said...

Thankyou for that detailed feedback, Mr Massey!