Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Ian Holm, Danny Huston, Gwen Stefani, Jude Law
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rated: M mature themes, low level coarse language
Running Time: 170 Minutes
Some men dream the future. He built it.
One of the most compelling figures of the 20th Century, Howard Hughes was an influential innovator, savvy industrialist, glamorous motion picture producer and quintessential American risk taker -but he thought of himself first and foremost as an aviator. With 'The Aviator', director Martin Scorsese focuses his storytelling lens on the most prolific period of Hughes' life: the period from the mid-1920's through the 1940's, when Hughes' daring-do and passion for flight drove his pioneering efforts in both aviation and the movies. A time of rampant invention, turbulent love affairs and savage corporate battles, this was also the time when Howard Hughes' high-flying ambitions first met with the cost of fame, fortune and his own obsession with perfection.
Howard Hughes, 1905-1976, was a most extraordinary man. As an only child, he inherited his parents' riches at a relatively young age and proceeded to use the wealth to fund numerous activities including movie production and aviation exploits. 'The Aviator' is Hughes' story from the mid-1920's, through the 1940's, by which he had developed a stubborn passion for aviation, a love of women, and a love of movie production.
Leonardo DiCaprio, as Howard Hughes, has captured the man and the myth to perfection. He appears in just about all scenes in this demanding role of a man who was undeniably a genius but also developed mental illness and struggled to deal with the reality of this illness. The film starts with a brief episode showing a young Howard being bathed by his mother, and her telling him about the dangers of germs, apparent on everything and everyone, which may be a reason for his obsessive-compulsive behaviour, which is apparent throughout the film. Move forward to Hughes' 20's and he is on the set of his movie production of the epic 'Hell's Angels' which he started before sound was introduced to film and finished just as talking pictures had been released. Frustrated that he missed filming 'Hell's Angels' as a talking picture, Hughes re-shot the entire film at a staggering cost, which was a sign of his pursuit for perfection and excellence.
'The Aviator' is a mammoth production for many reasons - the sets, costumes, sound, attention to detail are all flawless, as too are the support cast. Even though Leonardo DiCaprio is the lead, it is hard to not mention 'The Aviator' without saying Cate Blanchett. Cate's performance as Hughes' partner of three years, Katharine Hepburn is exquisite. She perfected Hepburn's accent, her mannerisms and her feisty nature, all of which are so detailed and polished aided by costumes, wigs and make-up, which included painstakingly painted-on freckles. Cate will surely be rewarded for this remarkable performance and rightly so. Mention must also go to John C. Reilly for an unyielding performance as Hughes' right-hand man, Noah Dietrich. Not a particularly emotional role but one that required diligence. Alec Baldwin, as PanAm boss Juan Trippe, displays passion, Kate Beckinsale as Hughes' on-again off-again lover, Ava Gardner, looks and is the real thing and Alan Alda as the corrupt Senator Owen Brewster, who was out to destroy Hughes, is fabulously slimy. Added are a few cameos, including Jude Law as Errol Flynn and Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow.
The persona of Hughes' is dealt with and his struggle with mental illness. He had issues dealing with touching people, touching objects; cleanliness and these are shown as Hughes' was headed towards one of many mental breakdowns. The movie does conclude after developing the character enough to show his passion and drive to succeed and then to go beyond that, but does not cover his latter years. Hughes was so determined to achieve the seemingly impossible and suffered as a consequence, crashing aircraft, sustaining numerous injuries and dealing with detractors, all of which are shown to great effect.
'The Aviator' is monumental, much like the man himself, Howard Hughes.
Rating : A++