Elizabethtown (2005)
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Review Date: December 06, 2005
Director: Cameron Crowe
Writer: Cameron Crowe
Producers: Cameron Crowe, Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner
Orlando Bloom as Drew
Kirsten Dunst as Claire
Susan Sarandon as Hollie
A dude who just found out that his shoe design lost his company close to a billion dollars is ready to take a leave of absence from life when he finds out that his father just passed away in Kentucky. Being the “responsible” one in the family, he is sent down for his dad’s funeral, where he meets all sorts of new and old family members and friends. He also meets a stewardess on the red-eye over there, who seems to be smitten by him…and then some! What follows is one of Cameron Crowe’s lesser efforts, but still a pretty sweet film overall.
After all of the bad buzz that I’d heard about this film since it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival (after which writer/director Cameron Crowe apparently cut 20 minutes from the movie), I was surprised to find myself strolling along the film’s basic plotline, not necessarily bowled over by what I was seeing, but not exactly disliking it either. I think this film’s biggest issue – at least for me – is that it ultimately didn’t get to me emotionally, on either the son/father front or the more romantic stuff between the two leads, Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. That said, I enjoyed the film on the whole, appreciated a couple of particularly memorable sequences (like the very long, but relatable cell phone conversation and the one-on-one that Bloom shared with a groom-to-be in a hotel hallway) and was charmed by its sentiment, but like I said before, I wasn’t really pulled into the characters or the story as a whole, and unlike previous Crowe efforts, don’t see myself ever watching this movie again. It’s actually pretty hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it was about the film, other than that lack of emotion that didn’t strike me, but if I really think about it, I think the lack of believability in certain sequences, particularly its final “road trip sequence” took me out of it as well.

In previous Crowe offerings, I could always see myself in his characters. I could believe that these things and people could happen and exist, but other than the basic home-town stuff in this movie, I felt like several scenes were “phonied up” for cinematic viewing like when Bloom stands over his father’s casket and could only come up with the word “whimsical” to describe that moment (Huh??). The videotape that Bloom slaps into a VCR to stop the kids from screaming…which works! (but didn’t work for me) Susan Sarandon’s rambling and not-so-profound speech at her husband’s eulogy and ultimately, its biggest unreal moment, the final sequence which expects us to believe that some girl who just met a guy a few days ago, had the time to put together what appears to be a life-time photo-album, complete with CDs, pictures, graphics, maps, letters, etc… (overnight, it seems) and make it work for the other character. I don’t know, you might think that I’m just not “romantic” enough to appreciate it, but honestly…I thought the whole thing was more “creepy” than romantic. What kind of person puts that sort of thing together for someone? Felt like a stalker by that point. Everywhere Bloom turned in the movie…Dunst would show up unannounced. Honey…play a little “hard to get”…trust me, it works sometimes. I don’t know. She was also a little too “giddy” and “sarcastic” for a Crowe movie. If we’re really gonna get into this character, we gotta believe the things she’s saying. Most of the time she seemed to be joking or kidding or acting goofy. Might work in a romantic comedy, but not in a romantic drama.

I guess it’s those “little things” that ultimately left this film in the “so-so” pile for me, as opposed to the standard Cameron Crowe “awesome” pile. That said, the film does feature plenty of great songs, cool actors (Baldwin is awesome in his few scenes here), fun quirky dialogue and a nice, cozy feeling for anyone who enjoys roadtrips and family interactions. I also liked watching both Bloom and Dunst as their characters, but unfortunately, just didn’t buy or care for their relationship together. This film is almost like going through someone’s own personal photo album and enjoying everything so well organized, pretty and nice, only to not give a shit about halfway through since you’re not in it and the memories, well, they’re not yours and not necessarily relatable to you either, i.e. a room catches on fire during a man’s eulogy and the band keeps playing?? I don’t know what Crowe was thinking.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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