Slam-bang full-throttle entertainment, and maybe the closest Scorsese will ever get to populist moviemaking. The Aviator feels like old-fashioned Hollywood with a bracing jolt of Scorsese’s cinematic flair. The cinematography and editing are both trademark Scorsese–visceral and expressive–while the production and costume design are impeccably “classic” Hollywood. DeCaprio delivers a riveting Howard Hughes in a hard-edged performance reminiscent of the tortured obsessives that DeNiro once played for Scorsese. Cate Blanchett, playing Kate Hepburn, proves again her dazzling genius, skillfully navigating her way through a role that, by its nature, could’ve turned into parody. But Blanchett plays Kate like a full-blooded human being, not a collection of eccentric tics and mannerisms that would’ve dogged a lesser talent. Credit John Logan’s intelligent script for avoiding pitfalls into clichés of biopic high-handedness. His script and Scorsese’s direction combine to bring us a closely felt, impassioned examination of Hughes’ life–its highs of ambition and celebrity and its lows of neurotic debilitation and political scandal. A terrific accomplishment for all involved, and Scorsese’s best film since Goodfellas.
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: John Logan
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin