Elizabethtown - Review
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Training Wheels; Extended Scenes; Meet The Crew; Photo Gallery; Theatrical Trailers.
HAVING referenced his mother in Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe now pays tribute to his late father in Elizabethtown, arguably his most personal work to date.
The film also provides Orlando Bloom with a career-best performance as Drew Baylor, an ambitious shoe designer whose latest effort has just cost his company a billion dollars.
Suicidal and on the verge of checking out, Drew gets a call from his sister informing him that his father, Mitch, has died and that the family needs him to take care of the funeral arrangements.
He flies home in order to do so but meets a plucky air stewardess (Kirsten Dunst) en route who befriends him in spite of his initial attempts to ignore her.
Their subsequent relationship provides Drew with fresh hope and unexpected focus as he heads to his father’s home town, Elizabethtown, to meet with his family and friends to make the necessary arrangements.
But will their friendship be enough to convince Drew that life is worth living?
Elizabethtown is an ambitious movie in that it attempts to deal with a range of subjects and emotions – from success and happiness to failure and death – in a funny but frequently poignant way, drawing from both real life and fantasy.
There are times when it feels a little too personal, almost at the expense of the audience, but it is also capable of provoking some serious soul-searching within the viewer.
Some might argue that Zach Braff got there first and did it much better in last year’s Garden State but Elizabethtown puts a different spin on proceedings and contains many trademark moments from Crowe that make it worth seeing on its own merits alone.
As ever, he draws great performances from a strong ensemble cast, with Bloom standing out as a stranger in a strange land attempting to reconnect with his emotional side.
His relationship with Dunst is very endearing and lends the movie a much-needed romantic boost, while his moments of reflection and self-doubt involving his father and career are well-realised and nicely played.
Susan Sarandon also makes the most of her limited screen-time as Drew’s mother, struggling to get in touch with her own grief about the death of her husband, while Alec Baldwin has a blast as Drew’s boss, given the unenviable task of firing him.
Another top-notch soundtrack (including the likes of Tom Petty and Ryan Adams) also provides an inspiring musical backdrop, especially for the road trip that draws the film to a close.
Elizabethtown isn’t without faults, however. It’s overlong, prone to self-indulgence and lacks the emotional clout I’d been expecting, but the positives far outweight the negatives.
So while it may not be as instantly satisfying as the director’s best work (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous), it remains a thought-provoking piece that’s sure to strike a chord with anyone willing to take a trip with it.