Elizabethtown came out in
October of 2005, and I was the only person at my school who cared that
it existed, and the only person (at the time) who fell for it. The past
few years have been about coming to grips with this fact, and the fact
that aside from Almost Famous, it’s actually my favorite Cameron Crowe film. Not that it’s as objectively “good” as, say, Say Anything or Jerry Maguire, or even Vanilla Sky, but I love it so much more than any of those, in spite of and sometimes for its faults

Re-reading my original review
was sort of embarrassing, but this is a movie that’s sort of
embarrassing to be a part of. And that’s okay. People in this movie
make bold, blatant declarations of love (in many forms), and whereas
this year’s terrific Two Lovers was all too aware of how embarrassing those decisions are in retrospect (or even at the time), Elizabethtown is all about how good it can feel in the moment. It’s everything Cameron Crowe was working towards aesthetically in Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, and Almost Famous – the purity of experiencing a truly transcendent moment.

In a recent liveblog
between Kevin Lee and Vadim Rizov about this film, Rizov claimed Drew
(Orlando Bloom) actually has no arc in the film, and while that’s sort
of true, it’d be a stretch to say he doesn’t change at all. After all,
Claire’s (Kirsten Dunst) entire goal in the story is to change Drew;
it’s got to amount to something.

Claire’s mission is the very
embodiment of a quote I’ve been coming back to a lot recently. Henry
David Thoreau wrote, “you must live in the present, launch yourself on
every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their
island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other
land, there is no other life but this.” Drew’s life before
Elizabethtown (the place and the film) was spent looking toward another
land, until he found the eternity in each moment after two massive
blows to the person he had constructed himself to be.

Now, granted, Elizabethtown
is overflowing with these moments (some which may last hours, or even
days), and it does seem like Crowe was trying to push the boundaries of
just how happy one film could be. Crowe, the film, Claire, and
eventually Drew are and become exactly who Patricia Graynamore was
talking about when she told Joe that very few people in this world were
truly awake, and they live in a state of constant, total amazement (Joe Versus the Volcano). And when I think about Elizabethtown
I tend to care less about its occasionally overwrought dialogue and
often stale performances, and come back to scenes like Drew and
Claire’s all-night phone conversation, so evocative of the at once
ethereal and fleeting nature of those encounters, or the tactile
sensation of releasing ashes out a car window.

And say what you
will about the rest, but while I find a lot to love about the film but
very little to admire, it’s impossible not to applaud Crowe’s
willingness to let the film be totally what it wants to be. It never
winks at you or thinks less of its emotional core, as Garden State, the film so often referred to in conjunction with it, did. In describing the joy he takes in watching Monte Hellmen’s Two-Lane Blacktop,
Richard Linklater said, “above all else…Two-Lane Blacktop goes all the
way with its idea. And that’s a rare thing in this world: a completely
honest movie.” Whatever feels cliché, schmaltzy, or cheesy about Elizabethtown,
I believe Cameron Crowe believes fully in everything he lays out. And
in a medium overcrowded with the ironic, the unoriginal, the
audience-tested, the focus-grouped, and above all the so totally
uninspired, I live for a completely honest movie like Elizabethtown.


is availalbe on DVD with a serviceable, occasionally lovely transfer
that nevertheless shows quite a few compression artifacts (some outdoor
shots of Kirsten Dunst are especially wrenching) and an audio mix that
can stand being cranked all the way up, as the film should be (let that
music fill the room, man). The extras are a total disappointment, with
absolutely nothing of any informative or educational value, suffering
all the more for the absence of the always-great Cameron Crowe
commentary track. Somewhere along the way, Crowe was convinced the film
was a total misfire. Whether or not he believes that now, that’s his
business, I don’t have to have his approval to love the film (as they
say in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, what does he know, he’s only the writer); I just would have loved to hear more from him when he totally believed in it.

Scott can be reached at ScottN_86@yahoo.com