Log in Register
 
RSS Feed Twitter MySpace Facebook Digg Flickr Delicious YouTube
Elizabethtown
UKScreen Rating:

Elizabethtown – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Shoe designer Drew (Bloom) has come up with such a flop of a trainer that it’s about to lose his company a billion dollars – and him, his job.
As he’s contemplating a half-hearted suicide attempt, he gets a call saying his father has died while visiting relatives, and he has to fly to Elizabethtown, Kentucky to collect the body.
A quirky air-stewardess, Claire (Dunst), keeps him company, against his wishes, and slips him her number as he leaves.
With newfound relatives driving him mad, a wedding party celebrating in his hotel, and his sister nagging down the phone, he calls Claire for some respite, and – surprise, surprise – the call leads to another meeting, and another and another, until – you guessed it – she helps him get his life back on track.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

After Crowe’s earlier warm-hearted movies, nothing prepares you for the sense of disappointment you get from this abysmal misfire.
Rather portentously, as the film opens, Drew is revealed to be a huge failure – although we never learn exactly what he’s done so wrong. It’s academic anyway, as it has nothing to do with the rest of the story. The whole first act does no more than serve as a spring-board for his impromptu journey of self-discovery.
Unlike Crowe’s gem, Jerry Maguire, in which a hardnosed agent becomes an emotional softie – Drew doesn’t change as a person – he doesn’t learn how not to be a failure – all he does is realise that he misses his dad more than he thought he would.
You never get beneath the skin of the characters – although, with this lot, there’s a sense in which that’s a relief.
Claire also doesn’t change as a person – she’s always the stereotypical cute and kooky, ditsy dame, who turns up, unannounced, uninvited and unbelievably, to deliver her pearls of weary wit and wisdom, exactly on cue. No-one can be that unremittingly irritating, and naïve, labouring under the misapprehension that her cuteness overrides any need to follow the generally accepted societal conventions.
It’s supposedly clear that they’re made for each other from their first meeting, so their continued teasing can only be because they know their courtship is being monitored by film cameras and they want to take the audience on a wild and crazy, illogically emotional rollercoaster. But it’s little more than a tiresome wild-goose chase, where nothing remotely interesting or believable ever happens.
This just doesn’t seem to be about anything – it thinks it’s about death and bereavement, but there’s no real study of the effects of bereavement. It thinks it’s about chance and whimsy, but most key events are contrived.
Drew meets Claire on a plane, on which he’s apparently the only passenger. There’s the rather odd assertion that his father should be buried in his home town, because his burial plot has been in the family for 272 years – why would any family have a burial plot unused for ten generations? Drew’s meant to be in Elizabethtown for a few days, but weeks seem to have passed by the time the rest of his family joins him there – his mother (Sarandon) has had time to take up cooking and learn to tap-dance for starters.
The illogical, incoherent mess keeps spilling out, with each scene more emetic than the last. Even Susan Sarandon’s jaw-droppingly incongruous song-and-dance routine at her husband’s memorial service isn’t a nadir. Everyone there presumably loves him, not that you’d know from what little is said – or not said – about him by the mourners.
What’s being said – or not said – is a big failure throughout the film.
Drew and Claire act as if they’re exchanging clever and meaningful words of wisdom, but they aren’t. They seem to bond without actually saying anything intelligent, deep or helpful to each other. Maybe all the intelligent bits were drowned out by the music during the all too many montage sequences.
It being Cameron Crowe, music’s a key element – but while Almost Famous is built successfully around the music, here it’s as if he realised he didn’t have enough for a soundtrack album, so he added the emetic road-trip finale, to squeeze in more.
It’s not all horrific – it does have some sweet moments, but it’s nothing like as cute, warm or insightful as it thinks it is. And a couple of scenes do ring true – the denouement of an all-night phone-call and the sense of missing out on a relationship with a loved one by putting off having one until it’s too late.
After Jerry Maguire’s cute classic lines, like “You complete me” and “You had me at hello,” the most memorable line this time comes when Claire implores Drew “Just tell me you love me and get it over with.” By the last half hour, you’ll be screaming that line straight back at her.

opens 4th Nov 2005

Comments

comments

Tagged with:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Skip to toolbar