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Elizabethtown /

Rated: PG-13

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

Directed by: Cameron Crowe

Produced by: Donald J. Lee Jr., Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner

Written by: Cameron Crowe

Distributor: Paramount Pictures


Orlando Bloom in Paramount Pictures' Elizabethtown
Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom in Paramount Pictures' Elizabethtown
Kirsten Dunst in Paramount Pictures' Elizabethtown

      It’s a little peculiar that writer/director Cameron Crowe, who has made an acclaimed career out of depicting the character-transformations of troubled youths when rocked by life-changing events (i.e.: Almost Famous), has such a high disregard for the very idea of transformation itself in his latest picture, Elizabethtown. Crowe’s Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom), a shoe executive who becomes suicidal when he leads a company to bankruptcy, is filled with such macabre ideas in the beginning of the movie that he hooks himself up to an exercise bike that will stab him in the heart as he rides it to his death. He is so depressed that when he receives a phone-call right before turning the fatal mechanism on, only to hear that his father has died, Drew senses a comparatively bright turn around the bend for his life. And so there proves to be. He refrains from pulling the plug on things—at least temporarily—and hops a flight to his dad’s home in small-town Kentucky. On the way there, while dozens of long-lost relatives who see him as the big family-celebrity await him, Drew meets Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst), a flight attendant who connects with him. In an instant, he becomes a threat to himself no more; now, Drew is simply a searcher for his life’s fulfillment.

     In essence, Crowe doesn’t care about how Drew reaches the point he does, internally, but rather dwells on the mere fact that he reaches it. Sure, there are many themes regarding self-discovery and how it can transform a human’s outlook on life to be found in Elizabethtown, but all of them function as external plot-devices.

     Then again, it’s hard to really deem Elizabethtown a bad movie because of the things that Crowe ignores, considering the fact that he gets so much else right. The film plays best as a straightforward-but-highly-romantic love-story. Dunst and Bloom give two of the best performances of their careers here, sizzling with a chemistry that Crowe captures magnificently. The scene featuring Drew and Claire’s all-night phone-call is exemplary of this; it is executed in a very simple manner, but allows the audience to observe their budding relationship in such an intimate way that its lucidity only lends to its perceptiveness.

     At 123 minutes long, Elizabethtown sort of dwindles to its conclusion, but this is hardly a problem when the company of the characters is as enjoyable as it is. (Not to mention: Crowe chopped down his original cut by almost a half-an-hour in favor of this shorter one). Even if it is a step down from the writer/director’s previous efforts, it allows him to indulge in all of his artistic temptations—from musical to location-wise, some more successful than others—in a comforting, eloquent manner. I reckon that the movie’s pretty damn good, too.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews

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