After Andre’s slight takedown of Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous”, I realized I would have to push up my blog on his most recent film. I vividly remember when Crowe took “Elizabethtown” – an extended cut of it – to the Toronto Film Festival and, due to the heavily-mixed reactions, he promptly left town. What we saw in theaters was a slightly-slimmed-down version.
For those who consider this film a possible failure on Crowe’s part, I ask that you give it some reconsideration. If you set aside some of its flaws, you’ll find what I honestly believe to be one of Crowe’s best screenplays. Above and beyond the great Crowesque lines and drama, there is a great sense that Crowe has somehow managed to fit a bit of Life into a two-hour bottle. This is not a movie that bases itself heavily on plot (if so, it’s a weird structure) but instead on one man’s journey and all the people around him.
I will be the first to admit that part of what doesn’t quite work with this film is the casting. Bloom has his moments where he impressed me, but for the most part, he doesn’t completely make this role work. And Kirsten Dunst annoyed me to no end when I first saw her in this film. But if you look at it from the perspective that the moments of acting Bloom doesn’t quite sell are actually him just playing out his character’s awkward idiosyncracies, it’s a role that’s easier to swallow. And when you realize that Kirsten Dunst’s Claire is supposed to resemble the kind of girl that annoys the hell out of you before completely endearing herself to you, the easier Dunst’s acting is to take.
I agree with Andre that Crowe’s glossing over Drew’s suicide scene stole from the film some of its gravitas. But the film I think is really more about the Southern hospitality and understanding your roots, as well as taking the time to realize Life is one big messy journey full of ups and downs. Does the whole film work? Absolutely not. But it’s possibly Crowe’s most personal film in a lot of ways, and one that has a lot to offer.
The fact that Variety just broke the news of Crowe’s new project moving forward early next year left me feeling two emotions – giddy that he has a new project in the pipeline and ready to go, but also a bit concerned that he’s casting two big stars in Stiller and Witherspoon. I have to say that a smaller budget on Elizabethtown could have really helped the film out. The last I heard, the budget on that film was 50 million, which is quite a bit of money for a film as small-town as it is. Giving Crowe all the money he wants/needs might make him a bit too self-indulgent at times, but when it’s with an artist as insightful and as enjoyable to watch as he is, it can’t all be too bad.
I promise I’ll come up with a more interesting blog next time. Peace.