It’s an incredibly entertaining turn that manages to shine even next to the larger-than-life performance by Leonardo DiCaprio and the almost too-overwhelming visuals of The Aviator. And even though Cate Blanchett never truly becomes Katharine Hepburn (is there one moment where one forgets that this is Cate Blanchett on the screen? I don’t think so) she still comes across as the best illusion humanly possible.
Cate Blanchett also approached the difficulties of the part very smartly – in her first scene she is almost like a parody. There’s the voice, the behavior, the constant talking, the political views, the golf-playing, the energy. She creates the kind of Katharine Hepburn we all expect – and then, step by step, she allows her to become deeper and more serious and the audience can accept those new, unknown sides of Katharine Hepburn because Cate Blanchett created the more famous images before.
Cate Blanchett obviously bursts with confidence in a part that needs all this confidence – because one hesitation, one false step would ruin everything and turn the performance into a laughing-stock. But Cate Blanchett shines and is able to appear completely natural in a performance that couldn’t be more stylized. She clearly inhabits the voice and the mannerisms – but never uses them to create her character but instead presents them only as a side-effect to her own characterization in which she shows a confident, but also insecure woman and actress.
Cate Blanchett is not the driving force of The Aviator – and why should she be? She’s the supporting player, the only truly important female in Hugh’s life who cannot accept his life-style. Cate Blanchett doesn’t steal the show but she delivers some of the movie’s greatest moments – when she talks to Howard in his bathroom and tells him about her brother, the funeral and the role of the media or finds herself torn between the eccentricities of her family and her love to Howard.
It’s a wonderful portrayal, an illusion that can be accepted very easily and stands as a great testament to the talents of both Katharine Hepburn and Cate Blanchett.