Elizabethtown - Rose Off the Bloom
| I admit that I am not a fan of Cameron Crowe as a film maker. It always seems to me that heís trying to Norman Rockwellize his own autobiography in his films. His movies are filled with quaint little odd stories loosely culled from his past that are designed to make you smile. He soft-peddles and warm-focuses so hard that his movies donít resemble real life at all. But oh donít we wish our lives were like that.
With each film he seems to have more and more difficulty making these quaint little stories connect to his audience. Elizabethtown is the latest and probably best example of this. It feels disjointed, itís not nearly as cute and cuddly as it imagines itself to be, and for a romance itís not really that romantic.
Elizabethtown feels hacked up. I donít know if this film was originally supposed to be longer or not but most of the scenes (until the last half hour) feel like they are missing big chunks of dialogue and even plot development. Often I couldnít understand the motivation of characters or they seemed to be acting suddenly, without proper provocation. I imagine there are a lot of scenes on the cutting room floor which may have enriched the film.
A good example of this is the first phone conversation between our romantic leads. Itís supposed to set up the whole romantic foundation of the film but it is reduced to a series of (not really that) quirky quips and one liners. Still, we are supposed to fall in love with the characters as they are.
Another interesting choice here is Croweís choice of music. During this romantic scene, he plays Ryan Adamsí Come Pick Me Up, a story of a dysfunctional, abusive relationship. Was he even listening to the music?
His characters have moved beyond quirky into the realm of the unrelatable. Maybe itís the scenes we are missing, but understanding why people do and say the things they do in Elizabethtown is a real challenge. Itís even more challenging since we arenít given reasons to care about any of the characters.
Besides a few limited exceptions, the cast is entirely uninteresting. Orlando Bloom proves heís no leading man. He can not sustain the energy required for a film of this length. Also, with all the close-ups, it became clear that outside of period costumes, Bloom really isnít that pretty after all.
Dunst fairs far better playing against type for the first time in as long as I can remember. Still, her character seems lost and unmotivated. We never get a clear understanding of who she is. Maybe Crowe met a woman like this sometime in his past which he is romanticising here in Elizabethtown. Too bad he wasnít able to romanticise a more fully realised character. Itís also too bad the two actors have no chemistry at all.
Are we really reduced to the point where we just accept that the two cute leads are inevitably going to fall in love without any evidence that they should? To paraphrase an earlier Crowe film, ďShow me the love.Ē
The moment that I did really appreciate is when the formidable Susan Sarandon takes to the stage. She gives the briefest of turns but saves the movie for me entirely. I wish the rest of the film had the amount of emotion and credibility that this one scene enjoys.
Elizabethtown doesnít seem to mean anything. Maybe it means something to Crowe personally but it doesnít resonate with the audience. Poor editing. Sloppy writing. Heavy handed sentimentalization. Disappointing casting. There are many problems with Elizabethtown but itís not a bad movie. Itís just not a good one either.