Reviewed by: Darren Amner

If you ever feel down, Cameron Crowe's films act as a perfect pick-me-up. Viewers are engulfed in a tremendous amount of feel-good storytelling without drowning in schmaltz. He continues themes from Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous in Elizabethtown, as his protagonists take journeys of self-discovery.

Drew (Orlando Bloom) is a sports shoe designer. His latest creation has cost his company in the region of a billion dollars in advertising and as a result he is about to be publicly humiliated in the tabloid press as an expensive failure.

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After being sacked, he contemplates suicide. Just as he is setting it up, using the combination of an exercise bike and a steak knife, he receives an unexpected call from his sister, informing him that their father has died.

Crowe's latest film is a love letter to the resilience of the bereaved and how we continue with our lives after tragedy. As Drew experiences failure, he rediscovers himself, his love for his family and, of course, his father. On his journey to Kentucky to organise the memorial service, he meets Claire (Kirsten Dunst) a flight attendant whose optimism for life aids his growth.

Dunst is an uplifting explosion on screen. Instantly likeable and loveable, it's a pleasure to watch her and, paired with Bloom, they make an engaging couple. Crowe takes his characters (and us) on a road trip of joy, sadness and laughter, where individually they discover what it's like to be truly alive. Excellent support comes from Susan Sarandon, who puts in a fine performance as Drew's mother.

Bloom has leading man looks, but does he have the range as an actor to carry the film on his own? His American accent is pretty good and he and Dunst play off each other very comfortably. Perhaps, in future, he should be choosing more modern roles, like this, because working with Crowe has been a learning experience.

Music plays a big part in their lives and drives the story, providing its heart and soul. The soundtrack is a pleasure, clearly capitalising on the director's knowledge and passion for music, no doubt from his time working on Rolling Stone. Crowe loves shooting rural landscapes and seems fascinated by Middle America, capturing a true sense of the people and the seemingly meaningless landmarks perfectly. It feels like he is on a tour bus passing though these towns on a road to discover something greater.

The film left me with a spring in my step and a true appreciation of all good things. Now, if only I can find Claire's phone number, I think my life will be complete.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed on: 03 Nov 2005
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Elizabethtown packshot
A man heads for a funeral and finds love on the way.
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Read more Elizabethtown reviews:

John Gallagher *****

Director: Cameron Crowe

Writer: Cameron Crowe

Starring: Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, Bruce McGill, Judy Greer, Jessica Biel

Year: 2005

Runtime: 123 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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