Movie Review by Neils Hesse
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C Reilly
Director: Martin Scorsese
“Everyman has his price, or a guy like me couldn’t exist.”
This is a famous quote made by a famous billionaire, film director/producer, aircraft designer/pioneer, avid womaniser and finally notoriously private recluse named Howard Hughes. We first meet Howard Hughes as a child in a scene where his mother is washing him and warning him of all the many diseases in the area and how he is not safe because of them, then we fast forward to the late 1920’s when Howard (Leonardo DiCaprio) is in his early twenties and working on his epic film HELL’S ANGELS. The film then goes on to explore his love affair with the film star Katharine Hepburn as portrayed by Cate Blanchett, his vast contributions to the world of aviation by breaking the speed record, designing several planes, expanding an airline, his encounters with several other women ranging form Jean Harlow (Gwen Stefani) to Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale) and finally his initial stages of descent into hysteria due to his OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Martin Scorsese directs an epic tale of this ambitious man and for close to three hours, which is the length of the movie, you are transported to the classy 1920s to 1940s world of the tennis shoe and suit wearing billionaire that was Howard Hughes. The colour of the film looks almost like the vibrant Technicolor days of that era and the editing, costumes, sets and soundtrack are all polished to perfection. The use of CGI for most of the flying scenes is also very tastefully done and does not diminish the sleek stylish feel of the film but instead complements it. The film was originally meant to be directed by Michael Mann but he passed this up even though he is still one of the producers and some of his influences are evident here. For instance the film seems much more intensely character driven by the main character leaving everyone else as more or less supporting acts.
Scorsese has done an excellent job but the true coup is DiCaprio in a defining role for him. As he said himself, “Howard Hughes was a multi-dimensional character”, and DiCaprio manages to capture all the facets of Hughes that are explored in this film perfectly, particularly in the scenes where his OCD takes over and he battles with doing things as simple as opening a toilet door to leave because of his fear of germs. The pain and fear in his eyes is utterly believable. His obvious power over the opposite sex as highlighted in one powerful scene where he very efficiently lined up a beautiful waitress to see him at a later stage and also his amazing confidence in himself in whatever he did is perfectly portrayed. Every frame he’s in he manages to draw you into what the character was possibly feeling. A thoroughly rewarding and astonishing performance by DiCaprio and with supporting acts from Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett, Alan Alda, John C Reilly and several other great actors this is just the way it should be.
This is a great, expertly crafted movie though a long one but is still definitely worth every minute.