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16 October 2005 @ 03:42 pm

Written and directed by Cameron Crowe

Starring: Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Saranden, Judy Greer and Alec Baldwin

Rating: PG13

My rating: 3 out of 4 stars

This movie seems to be getting a mixed bag of reviews from all the pros, but for this ordinary person watching a movie about success and failure, life and death, despair and love, it was a very real mix of elements that are so hard to define and categorize and yet is so very recognizably human. Life is, after all, messy and hard to contain in one little neat description.

I'm a little curious if the very opening scene and accompanying voiceover is what lost some people right at the beginning of the movie, perhaps making it difficult for them to watch the rest of the movie without some irritation at the opening impression. My personal wank of that issue is this: It was merely playing a part in the whole hyperexaggeration of the magnitude of Drew's fiasco of a failure. Along with the hyperexaggerated quality of the opening voiceover (which drove me a little crazy - I was so glad when they finally let Drew start talking "normally".) The failure that cost a company a billion dollars. The failure that he was supposedly responsible for. There was a nod to the fact that he wasn't alone in causing this disaster - Alec Baldwin's character spent his whole time with Drew laying on the guilt trip, manipulating him into publicly accepting sole responsibility in that interview with the journalist (Baldwin was awesome) - but the fact that he was manipulated into that tells us that he wasn't, in fact, the only person responsible for the fiasco. He was just the scapegoat.

The pacing of the movie felt more documentary style - there was no rush to get to some "big moments". Instead, we were treated to many, many small moments that are so recognizable and real. I've been there, I've done that. I KNEW some of these people. I've met them. I'm related to some of them. And - I *liked* it.

Orlando Bloom plays the main character, Drew Baylor, and he did a great job - and the fact that he was also managing with a (to him) foreign accent and maintained it was impressive. He has such an expressive face, and there are some really enjoyable moments when he's interacting with the Kentucky branch of his family that he transmits Drew's thoughts and feelings without uttering a word. A look, a quirk of his eyebrow, and flicker of reaction across his face tells the story.

Kirsten Dunst's character Claire is a little uneven. Her accent, for starters, was far more inconsistent than Bloom's. But she pulls off that quirky, initially annoying borderline stalker personna and successfully morphs into a person with secrets and issues of her own, and you can understand why Drew eventually is so attracted to her.

The ending of the movie felt too rushed. That moment when Drew finally lets go of his emotions and grieves for his father - that should have been the climax, a huge point of carthesis for Drew. The payoff of his character's journey. By letting himself feel and care, he was making himself a part of life, not cutting himself off from everything/staying suicidal. And instead of that being a huge moment, it was rushed through in a blink and you'll miss it montage. Getting the girl should have been the icing on the cake, not the payoff. IMHO, lol. Instead, it was played that getting the girl was the payoff. It just felt rushed and cut short.

Which leads me to give a final score to the movie as thus: a good movie with the potential to be great, but some flawed structural issues takes it down a notch.

I do recommend this movie, despite my criticisms, and I think I'm criticising it in such a nitpicky fashion because it is, in fact, really good and I just wanted it to climb that notch into greatness. But here I am, two days later, and I still find myself thinking about Elizabethtown, reflecting on life and family relationships, and wanting more of this movie, and really - any movie that leaves you wanting more certainly did something very right.
Scarlettpunkiejeannien on October 17th, 2005 06:27 am (UTC)
so my only question is this: If I hate Kirstin Dunst with a fiery passion, does the rest of the movie make it worth enduring her?
blackcat333_99blackcat333_99 on October 21st, 2005 08:09 pm (UTC)
Boy, you ask a tough one. I feel rather neutral about KD, so I enjoyed her character. But if you truly hate her with a fiery passion, I just don't know. She IS the lead female character, and her character in and of itself is supposed to be a bit annoying at first, so that will possibly only give you more reason to hate her.

OTOH - because there are two storylines going on, the romance being the second one and the death/funeral being the first (the two storylines are connected but there is definitely some separation in interaction), so she's actually only in about half of the movie as far as screen time goes.

For whatever that's worth. If you do go ahead and see the movie, let us know what you thought!
Scarlettpunkiejeannien on October 21st, 2005 08:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Elizabethtown
haha, yeah, I just don't really feel her as anything but the horrible image she puts out in interviews (though why I expect intelligence from Hollywood, nobody will ever know *coughtomcruisecough*)

I'll let you know if I see it, though! Thanks for the reply! :o)