Elizabethtown (2005)


Note: This is now among my favorite films ever, and as you’ll soon discover (evidenced below) I love, love, loved it!

If you have ever: a) been fired, b) gotten dumped, c) lost a loved one, or d) searched for love and meaning in life, you will surely find something of value to take from Elizabethtown. When Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) loses a multimillion (almost billion) dollar deal on a groundbreaking new sneaker design, he not only loses his job, but also his pretty girlfriend, a bit of his sanity, and just as things begin to look increasingly more grim by the second–he gets a call from his sister that his father has died while visiting home in Kentucky, and Drew is the designated “responsible” family member who must tidy up the loose ends. On his flight, Drew meets a spunky yet (we later find) effervescently jaded flight attendant, Claire (Kirsten Dunst), who is absolutely the glue who carries the entire film.

The movie becomes less about a story about a grieving son coming to terms with his father’s sudden death, or even about an “almost romance,” and more about self-discovery. The film is directed by Cameron Crowe, not overdone but just theatrical enough to prepare for the big, scrapbook/mix-tape/road trip culmination sequence at the end. The light use of some black humor may not connect with every audience, but this film surely balances somewhere between comedy and drama, with some good scenes with Susan Sarandon. Though the film’s surface concept revolves largely around death, the overall effect is far from dark, and most scenes with Bloom and Dunst are playful and sweet, even when shopping for an urn in which to place Drew’s father’s ashes.

Dunst is fantastic as Claire, the sweet perfect creative girl who is off-putting just enough to make her delightful and interesting, perhaps a tad annoying to some; but at the end, she is lovable. Bloom is, for the large part of the movie, rather dull; or rather his character is, but it’s cleverly designed that way, so you can witness the crescendo at the end, which is what the whole movie is about, someone shedding a skin and learning about their insides and what really matters in life.

If you’re anticipating an overly sentimental “chick film” about loss, love, family and redemption, Elizabethtown will most likely exceed your expectations and possibly inspire you to plan a road trip in the near future. The undeniably well-pieced soundtrack, unconventional screenwriting, beautiful scenery and seamless performances bring it to the next level. While certainly not without flaw, Elizabeth town is underrated and definitely worth adding to your Netflix list.

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