On The Money
Financial Advice For The Working-Class
A Movie About Money
I saw an interesting film last night. That’s not quite right. Actually, I found it a rather dull film, a dull film with atrocious dialogue, characters I did not care about, an a weak story that just ran out of gas and died, literally.
Other than that, I’d call Mira Nair’s Amelia, a stunning and magnificent masterwork. The cinematography took my breath away. The film takes us into a slightly sepia-toned fantasy world of opulence, excess and exploitation. I say “fantasy world” because although allegedly set in America during the Great Depression, Amelia had a dream-like other-worldly quality that seemed completely unreal.
No one in the thirties would have said “Thank you for not getting defensive.”, as one character did in Amelia. The rest of the equally bland dialogue contributed little to the characters, the story or least of all the setting. Amelia reminded me of Star Trek crew members playing a holodeck game, like people from another world inhabiting an idealized imitation of a particular era.
Rather than a realistic depiction of opulence, which never completely manages to hide its true ugliness, in Amelia, we see greed and avarice portrayed as an almost heavenly state of grace. In Amelia we see an aspirational, idealized portrayal of wealth, designed more as an escape from reality for the economically downtrodden, than as a realistic portrayal of the life of Amelia Earhart.
Mira Nair really spared no expense on the visual impact of Amelia. In fact, the movie just reeks of money. I found myself wondering, “If they could afford all of this beautiful aerial photography, antique cars, aircraft and period costumes, why couldn’t they spring for some better writers?”
Gerbil Boy, Richard Gere spoke the most memorable line in the film, when he said; “I’m an American, and am therefore obligated to make as much money as possible.” In fact, the whole movie seemed to be about money, and everyone’s obligation to serve it. Both in the story, and in the production values, I felt bludgeoned by money, and I resented it.
Yes, money, not Amelia Earhart was the main character and subject of this film. In that sense Amelia succeeds in revealing the true character of its subject. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more spectacular display of emptiness in my entire life. While I don’t know any more about Amelia Earhart than I did before I saw Amelia, I found the movie interesting because of what it said about Mira Nair, Hollywood, and money, none of which is very flattering.