Anywhere But Here

Anywhere But Here


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

If acting ability alone has the ability to draw audiences, with a promise of performance that lifts the roof beams, there would be queues around the block for Anywhere But Here. There are problems, however.

The film has a title you've already forgotten and the stars are women, which, in The World According To Bruce, signifies emotional quicksand. Action jocks and sight bite movie-dippers are going to think, tears on the pillow? No way!

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The story invites a negative. Adele (Susan Sarandon) drives her 14-year-old daughter, Ann (Natalie Portman) from Bay City, Wisconsin, to Beverley Hills, Cal. She leaves everything -family, job, second husband - for the flopsy dream of Hollywood glam. She has a fancy Mercedes car, no money and an infuriating habit of seeing only the bright side.

Ann hates Adele for doing this. Her friends are in Bay City, especially Benny (Shawn Hatosy), her first cousin. She is depressed, weepy, bolshy, unco-operative - in short - a bucket of grief. The teenage/grown-up thing has been reversed. Adele is flirty and vulnerable; Ann grounded and judgemental.

Sarandon could have sashayed through this role, like Blanche Dubois on rollerskates, a child-woman who lives in denial, not yet hysterical. There are elements of Blanche in Adele's character, the comic vulgar embarrassments, but what Sarandon does is bring out the strength that underlies them, as if this woman knows she's drowning and is damned if she'll let the world push her under, because there's more to life than doing the dishes and listening to a fat man snore.

Portman understands the complexity of living with unpredictability, in a house that is not a home, with a mother who lays herself open to disappointment, like a doe in the blaze of torches. Ann's heart is breaking every-which-way and yet she must hold, hold, hold. Her lip trembles, her eyes water, her resolve is true.

Acting can be commonplace, or it can be courageous. The performances from Sarandon and Portman deserve the highest awards for valour. Double-handed, they capture the citadel.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Anywhere But Here packshot
Mum makes movie star plans for her unwitting daughter.
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Director: Wayne Wang

Writer: Alvin Sargent

Starring: Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Shawn Hatory, Hart Bocher

Year: 1999

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: USA


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