US Release Date: 10-14-2005
Directed by: Cameron Crowe
- Orlando Bloom, as
- Drew Baylor
- Kirsten Dunst, as
- Claire Colburn
- Susan Sarandon, as
- Hollie Baylor
- Judy Greer, as
- Heather Baylor
- Jessica Biel, as
- Ellen Kishmore
- Alec Baldwin, as
- Jed Rees, as
- Chuck Hasboro
- Emily Rutherfurd, as
- Cindy Hasboro
- Bruce McGill as
- Bill Banyon
Kristen Dunst and Orlando Bloom in Elizabethtown.
My brother Scott and I have a running gag that whenever we attend a screening together the movie is almost always disappointing. Sadly Elizabethtown is no exception. What could have been a wonderfully touching and funny story about failure, the death of a loved one, and human relationships in general, is instead an uneven mish-mash with poorly defined characters and no satisfying emotional pay-off.
It does have a few funny moments but not enough to make this movie worth rooting for.
Orlando Bloom does a decent job with the material; even managing a passable American accent. The movie rests almost completely on his shoulders as his character Drew is in nearly every scene. But at the end of it all I still didn't feel as if I knew him. For one thing his suicide attempt at the beginning of the movie isn't remotely believable. We aren't given any clues into why he would choose this way out of an admittedly humiliating and financially disastrous situation; but the emotional imbalance necessary to attempt suicide is not there.
Drew's father's death is the catalyst for the story - and , ironically what causes his suicide attempt to fail when the phone rings - yet the only insights we are shown about his relationship with his dad are a few brief (without dialogue) childhood memories of them together. If Drew didn't know his father well, we are never told why, and if they were close then why can't Drew mourn his death? The whole story just doesn't work as written. And it's one thing for the main character to be a cipher at the beginning of the movie, but he's not supposed to be one at the end.
By comparison Kirsten Dunst's Claire seems more fully fleshed-out. This is partly due to the wonderful performance Dunst gives and also, for all the flaws in the script, it does provide Claire with more character developing lines and personality traits. Unfortunately she is only a supporting player in the movie.
Susan Sarandon and Alec Baldwin are both good in very small roles. I can't beleive she's nearly sixty!
The road trip that Drew takes at the end is the closest the movie comes to an emotionally successful moment. And it's only enjoyable in a schmaltzy sort of way. Cameron Crowe misses the mark pretty wide on this one but hey even Billy Wilder made some bad movies. As for Orlando Bloom it's nice seeing him in something without a sword in his hand and he does stretch a bit as an actor; this is just the wrong project.
Orlando Bloom and Kristen Dunst in Elizabethtown.
I agree with everything Patrick says except for his assessment of Orlando Bloom's performance, which is pretty much one note throughout the movies' length and that one note is depression. He never gets excited, or angry, or just about anything other than depressed. Okay, okay, maybe he smiles occasionally, but then again, maybe he's just reflecting what the audience's reaction will be to watching this movie.
Cameron Crowe has always had a distinctive writing style. People don't talk like the characters in a Cameron Crowe movie. Take the famous, "You complete me"/"You had me at hello", speech from Jerry Maguire. Great speech, great movie moment, but try saying it in real life and you'll just sound stupid. With the right actors, like Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger, Crowe can get away with lines like those, but whenever Orlando Bloom says them, they just sound phony.
As Patrick mentioned, there are a few humorous moments in the film, such as when Drew and Claire, having talked all night on the phone, agree to meet and watch the sunrise together. When they meet and go to the spot, there is only awkward silence between them. "We peaked on the phone, didn't we?" Claire asks.
Other moments of humor/emotion are groan inducing, such as Sarandon's 11th hour tap dance. It's supposed to be some kind of big emotional moment, but it falls completely flat instead.
Crowe has made too many good movies for his career to be permanently marred by this one film, but I just hope he doesn't make a habit of it.
Kristen Dunst in Elizabethtown.
Orlando Bloom shines in costume roles so well because the acting they require is unrealistic. The role of Legalas was more about the hair than thespian talent. To play Will Turner, Bloom just needed a manicured beard and be as charming as possible. In Elizabethtown, he has no such makeup or costume to hide behind. Without the distraction of action scenes and fantasy situations, Bloom's poor acting is exposed. I disagree Patrick, his American accent stinks.
Even if Bloom had added some charm to one of the boringest characters of the year, I doubt if it would have mattered. Cameron Crowe is notably long winded. His movies always run 2 hours plus. The whole point I gathered from Elizabethtown was that family and friends are more important than business and money. The first part of the film is clear that his girlfriend really did not care for him and his only attractive feature was his business potential. He goes to Kentucky where his enigma of a father is extremely well loved by everyone he meets. Thus the moral of the story is that Drew just needs a sincere hug and sex with Claire.
The scenes of Bloom driving around with his Dad's ashes were pointless. He visits the spot where Martin Luther King was assassinated. He visits the survivor tree in Oklahoma. What the hell do those things have to do with his relationship to his dad? Drew should have spent the road trip talking to his Dad's urn like Tom Hank's talked to a volley ball in Cast Away. Those scenes could have been used for emotional exposition instead of some overrated Jack Kerouac inspired nonsensical film sequence.
What is it with Crowe and traveling in his movies anyway? He always has characters in cars or in airports and airplanes. He might as well do a remake of a Bob Hope, Bing Crosby road movie. I could see it now; Tom Cruise and Sean Penn riding in a car singing to a classic rock song. Wait a minute, maybe Crowe should just stick to his overindulgent, moody, anti-establishment films after all.
Photos © Copyright Paramount Pictures (2005)