The worst thing I can say about this film is that it rendered a fucking interesting story so incredibly dull that I couldn't finish it.
That's right folks. Call the review police because I'm about to break the law. I'm about to review half a film, and half a film only.
Stupid? Possibly. Bold? Certainly. Stupid? Yes. But here goes
Scorsese has made the first half of a movie that is obsessed with the golden era of Hollywood, and in doing so seems to trivialise the Hughes story to nothing more than one of showbiz glitz and glamour. We open as Hughes is making his epic pic Hells Angels notorious for its amazing aerial stunts, the like of which had never been witnessed before. This is a nice little story in itself, and it is obvious Scorsese starts with this out of respect for a filmmaker who was so driven to get exactly what he envisioned regardless of cost, or other expenses (3 people died during the making of the film).
We are then taken inside A-list Hollywood's parties and back-patting functions, an opportunity Scorsese uses just to name-check some of that era's big names (Jude Law as Errol Flynn, an example), however it seems that Hughes is as uninterested in this scene as I was watching Di Caprio in it. No, what Hughes really was interested in was aviation, and he starts pursuing this interest with great and admirable fervor. Or was it Katherine Hepburn that he was pursuing with great and admirable fervor? For the bulk of the first half of the film that seems to be the only thing that's going on. Flying. Hepburn. Flying. Hepburn. Flying with Hepburn. Flying. Which of these passions would win?
This all seems to come to a head when Hughes attends a boring lunch with Hepburn's quirky family or at least it came to a head for me because that's where I switched off. As far as a conclusion goes, it certainly was an unexpected one. Lunch with his girlfriend's parents? Quite the climax. I'm glad I switched it off because my heart could have barely handled more cinematic adrenalin like this.
For what it's worth, coming from someone who didn't care enough to watch the film in its entirety (a harsh indictment considering the crap I have sat through to stumps see 90% of my other reviews) Blanchett was amazing as Hepburn, although it did seem like there were scenes that served very little purpose other than for her to show off her remarkable mimicry skills. Di Caprio seemed to have a permanent furrowed brow as Hughes, but maybe his performance picked up when they got into the OCD germaphobe bit of the film, as spazzing out like that wouldn't have given him something meatier to work with. I really wouldn't know, having not watched it all. What I do know is that they were setting it up rather unsubtley with Leo having a small freak out here and there about shaking someone's hand, or someone picking a pea off his plate.
It really is an interesting story, and I fully intend to pick up a Howard Hughes biography and find out what happened in the end. Until then, like all great pop culture history, I will have to be content with the version of events taught to me by The Simpsons .
The dullest first half of a film I have seen this year.