Peter M Howard ::

wintermute.com.au

Elizabethtown

07November2005 [movies]
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This is up there as one of the most confused movies ever made, proving that the whole is never equal to the sum of the parts. There were really about three movies in one: the first ripped from Garden State and its kin, with the city-kid returns to small town motif; the second about family, revolving around the death of the father; and the third an Ode to the American South. The latter showed the greatest potential — had it not been introduced _so_ late in the movie (completely changing focus) it could have been spectacular.

Following the city/smalltown storyline the movie seemed to desperately want to be Garden State, complete with Kirsten Dunst playing Natalie Portman and not really being up to the task (though perhaps it was just really bad dialog). Tried too hard to be trendy anyway… The family storyline just got annoying and _really_ corny; Susan Sarandon should be ashamed. For the final storyline, Kirsten Dunst got away from the Portman role and played ‘The Spirit of the South’ and did so rather well. I realised early on that she was playing the angel role, but once the Ode to the South storyline dominated it became much more obvious — her character shines when she is offscreen, manifested in the road trip through the South she prepares for Bloom’s character.

And Bloom himself seems to have taken acting lessons from Tom Cruise (who is listed as a producer, something we didn’t realise beforehand or we would have passed this movie over entirely!), consistently inappropriately exuberant; though as with Dunst, his character makes sense for the final storyline, where he is appropriately enamoured with the South. So not sure if I’m going to write off Orlando Bloom just yet, as long as he gets far far away from Mr Cruise…

Update: I knew Cameron Crowe had previously directed Almost Famous, which wasn’t a bad film, but I’ve just discovered he also directed Jerry Maguire and Vanilla Sky, also two of the worst movies ever made (especially the latter)… Must remember to steer clear of him in future!

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