Orlando Bloom has always been on my list of actors I couldn't care less about. Kirsten Dunst has always been not much higher than that for me. After "Elizabethtown," Orlando Bloom remains on that list while Dunst has moved up a notch in my eyes. She is the only character I was even slightly interested in, in this paramount "fiasco" of a film.
Bloom plays Drew, a west coast young man who has ruined a Nike-esque shoe company with his failed product. Just when things couldn't get worse, he learns of his father's death; all the way across the country in Kentucky. His job: go to Elizabethtown, KY and bring back his father's corpse or ashes. Along the way, he meets Claire (Dunst). An exciting, eccentric, quirky young woman who is annoying at first, but slowly blossoms for Drew into something that could hold possibilities. How cliche is that?
The whole film is frought with nothingness. Meeting his midwest, small town family was packed with more cliche. No one in the film held any interest for me. It was soooo boring. An instruction manual for call center software would be more riveting than the writing in this film. The normally brilliant bits of dialogue I am used to from Crowe's films have disappeared. Plus, he just adds all of theses needless sub-plots into the film that only succeed in making the whole annoying experience longer. Had he simply focussed on the relationship aspect of Claire and Drew, there might have been more depth and excitement. Although Susan Sarandon's ten minutes really steal the show (in more ways than one), and from that point on, the film really had me caring.
There are three things Crowe is known for in his films. The aforementioned trademark/catch-phrase dialogue, the building of the male-female relationship and his ability to incorporate music at just the right moment with just the right visual to bring out emotion of unspeakable magnitude. He performs the other two of these duties again in "Elizabethtown," but this time, also with two problems. The musical aspect is discussed in the following paragraph, but within the very engaging relationship part of the film, it is broken up and convoluted with all of the boring family "drama." The late, all night phone conversation between Drew and Claire is great, but then destoryed by returning us back to reality. Stick to what you know Cameron, stay away from trying to insert needlessness within your greatness.
The music. See the Tiny Dancer sequence in "Almost Famous;" one of my top five favorite movie scenes of all time. Or the image of John Cusack with the boom box in "Say Anything." In "Elizabethtown," I felt that same emotional tug with his musical imagery. BUT...there was too much of it. The last 45 minutes of the film were one giant commercial for the soundtrack. Still, he is a master of the music he knows; and hearing U2's "Pride" (blasted in DTS sound I might add) while we're standing in front of the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and getting a glimpse of his hotel room just as it was on that fateful day, was nothing short of magical. As Drew embarks on a scripted road trip, we are treated to a great collage of fantastic music inserted with just the right visual imagery. It is the ultimate mix tape.
Despite the fact that I didn't really care about any of the charcters in the film (not even Drew and Claire), by the end I did. In fact, something happened in the final sequence of events to make me care more about these two people than I've cared about any character in any film for a long time. Crowe fails in this jouney, but the destination was fulfilling. If you can sit through the 100 minutes of boring, the final 20 may help you to see everything more clearly.