DiCaprio was okay, I guess, altho' for a character who ages twenty-some years during the course of the film, all he managed to do was develop a little moustache. I can't fault the actor for that, it comes back to the director. How Ms. Blanchette managed to pull an Oscar for her cartoonish caricature of Hepburn is beyond me. I felt I was watching a one-dimensional cardboard cartoon whenever she was on screen. And what was with that Errol Flynn bit near the beginning? I guess it was Jude Law. Again, not to slight Mr. Law, I'd have to lay this one, too, at the feet of the director. Mr. Law neither looked nor sounded like Errol Flynn; and altho' I didn't know the man personally, I've read a fair amount about him, including about his propensities for brawling and womanizing, but I doubt very much that he was the coarse, ill-mannered lout portrayed in this film.
Scorcese obviously tried to impress the "film-and-other-trivia literate" in the audience with his many references to Hollywood history and gossip, including Flynn's Tasmanian heritage, references to various film stars like Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, the clip from "The Jazz Singer," and the gag sequence about Jane Russell's bra that Hughes designed (and Jane never wore). I was ever so impressed with the exchange about firing designer Ray Loewy. Is it becoming a little Hollywood trend to make references to various designers and architects in films these days, like the Edith Head pastiche in "The Incredibles?"
Okay, it was cool to see Jolson have a speaking part in a current film.
Anyway, we get some Hollywood insider references to impress us with "period detail," we get some of the WORST DIGITAL EFFECTS I have seen in ages,...
NOTE TO "MARTY" SCORCESE: if you're going to shoot an airplane film, follow Howard Hughes' example and get twenty-four REAL FREAKING CAMERAS and eighty-five REAL FREAKING AIRPLANES and shoot the sequence on REAL FREAKING FILM. Please. The people with whom I was watching the film are very tolerant of digital effects, and they even commented on how unrealistic the airplane sequences appeared.
...we get high school drama club caricatures for characters, and we get to see a guy peeing in a milk bottle one minute and holiding his own in a Congressional inquiry the next.
I'm sorry, I'm not sufficiently familiar with the progression of Mr. Hughes' tragic descent into madness to comment on the accuracy of the timeline implied in this film. I feel that the process was not effectively presented in a movie that glossed over many aspects of Hughes' career while lingering endlessly on other seemingly unimportant sequences. The dialog was not tight. The story didn't flow. There were so many dark-haired women in the film who looked nearly identical it became confusing -- my friends kept asking, "is that the cigarette girl," or "she doesn't look fifteen, is this somebody else" or "now is this one the cigarette girl?"
I've always been somewhat intrigued by the life of Howard Hughes, and had high hopes that this film would be interesting. It fell short of my expectations. For a more interesting, albeit brief, cinematic portrayal of Hughes, by an actor who resembles him physically much more closely, see Disney's The Rocketeer, which also has a dark haired girl and a more convincing "Errol Flynn" character (altho' can anyone explain to me why he lapses into a German accent at the end of the film -- the character was a Nazi sympathizer, but not a German.)
I wish somebody with a hundred and fifty million dollars to burn, like the people who financed this movie, would instead go up to rural Oregon, get the Hughes Flying Boat (aka Spruce Goose) out of that punky little museum, put it back together, and fly it!