Elizabethtown could have been a trite, copycat love story about finding a place in the world. It could have been full of recycled cliches following the cheesy pitfalls of love. Basically, it could have been a disaster. Yet Cameron Crowe’s new film shines with heart and sincerity rarely churned out from the Hollywood machine. It is a diamond in the rough in a world of poorly written dialogue and wholly unbelievable acting. Topped with possibly the best soundtrack of the year, Elizabethtown is a must-see film.
The story begins with Drew (Orlando Bloom), a down-on-his-luck shoe designer who must travel to his hometown to deal with the death of his father. The strained relationship between Drew and his father is obvious from the second his eclectic mother Hollie (Susan Sarandon) asks him to fly alone to Kentucky to recover his father’s body and bring him back for a proper burial. Hollie can’t return to Elizabethtown herself due to tension between her and her recently departed’s family.
Drew’s nearly empty Louisville-bound flight leads him to ponder his life and future plans. Since he recently suffered a major disappointment in his career, his outlook is pretty glum. His thoughts are barely complete when a bubbling flight attendant, Claire (Kirsten Dunst), decides to invite herself to have a conversation with him. Even with Drew’s downtrodden attitude, an instant kinship and spark melds between the two. Claire is able to see through the depression to Drew’s inner self.
The script for Elizabethtown bears Crowe’s signature style: a mix of quietly humorous lines, earnest emotion and a sly sarcasm that is reminiscent of his beloved ’80s classic, Say Anything. Dunst does her part to pull off quirky Claire without the character coming off as unbalanced.
Bloom’s departure from the heroic adventure hero is seamless. He handles his line delivery well and conveys even more with his eyes. The part of Hollie could have not been better portrayed by any actress. Sarandon captures the essence of a woman on the edge during a time of pain and loss. The rest of the supporting cast does an outstanding job at times, almost distracting from the main players.
The film’s soundtrack serves as another character. Crowe’s ability to use music to tell a story is unmatched by any other modern director. His song choices reflect the feelings of the characters more than dialogue can convey. Tom Petty, Elton John and Crowe’s wife, Nancy Wilson, compile moving music that sets the tone for the entire picture.
Elizabethtown captures a myriad of feelings. Love, loss, compassion, confusion and ultimate destiny are examined in the film. The journey the characters follow is easy to sympathize with, especially during the twenty-something trials of life. The film is a bit lengthy, but hold on for the whole ride. It is a musically genius, enlightening journey to finding yourself.
Comedy, PG-13, Running time: 123 min.