Plot: What’s it about?
Adele (Susan Sarandon) is as wild as they come, always looking for a good time and throwing passes at the opposite sex. She also has a tendency to look beyond the present, and dream of the future, where things are just the way she wants them to be. But she is not living the type of life she wants to be, due in part to the consequences of some wild behavior, her young daughter. Ann (Natalie Portman) is Adele’s daughter, but the genes that make Adele a free spirit must have skipped a generation, because Ann is a level headed young woman who thinks in a more realistic fashion. While Ann loves her mother, it troubles her to stay with her, since she dislikes her mom’s constant adventures and flirtation. Even though it is just Ann her mother, she just wants to have a normal family life, which is impossible given her mother’s antics. When the two move from Wisconsin to Los Angeles, things manage to get even worse. The environment in L.A. proves too tempting for Adele, and Ann decides a change in locale is needed, so plans to attend college on other side of the country, but her mother wants her stay close to home. While the two seem like total opposites on the outside, perhaps there is something on the inside that can bring them together.
I have to admit, I skipped this movie when it ran theatrically, with my decision based on the advertising, which was aimed right at the female demographic. A movie about a mother/daughter relationship just didn’t seem like something I needed to spend nine bucks on. Time passes, and the film is released on home video, including DVD, so I think a proper trial is in order for this flick. While I do feel this holds the most appeal to females, anyone who likes movies involving complex relationships will like this one too. The characters are quite well developed, which surprised me, since I was expecting cookie cutter characters and a paper thin plot with a watery eyed ending. I do think the storyline is recycled and predictable, but the point of a movie often hinges more on the journey than the destination. And the journey here is entertaining, with the humorous dialogue and interesting character traits. Had this movie not used such talented actresses in the leads, it would have failed, but with these two carrying the movie, it works. This is worth a rental for sure, and Fox has even made a solid disc for it, so a purchase is a good investment as well.
As I mentioned above, what makes this film work so well is the complex characters played by talented actresses. The director of this film, Wayne Wang, is known for using his films as character studies, and that carries over to this movie. If you like the dialogue and interaction here, make sure to look up other Wang movies such as Smoke, Chinese Box, and The Joy Luck Club, all of which are fine examples of his style. The leads here are casted and acted to perfection, with Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman behind the wheel. Sarandon (Thelma & Louise, Stepmom) seems right at home in this type of female bonding role, and we all know she’s had plenty of experience in the genre. Portman (The Phantom Menace, Mars Attacks!) is still a little wet behind the ears, but her talent is already shimmering, I shudder to think how she can be once she’s honed her craft. The supporting cast is also talented, including Hart Bochner (Mr. Destiny), John Diehl (The Client, A Time To Kill), Shawn Hatosy (The Postman, In & Out), and Bonnie Bedelia (Die Hard, Needful Things).
Video: How does it look?
Anywhere But Here is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is one of Fox’s finest transfers to date, which makes me hope they continue their support for high grade anamorphic transfers. While watching this movie, I could find no flaws with the visual presentation whatsoever, this is a reference quality transfer. No compression errors of any type, no grain, no print wear, just strong and sharp image. Color and flesh tones are perfect, not a hint of distortion present, nor color errors such as bleeding. Just as impressive is the contrast, which provides very high detail level, even in the darkest of shadows. If other studios are reading this, this is how visual transfers should be done!
Audio: How does it sound?
This is a dialogue driven movie, so audio does little more than ensure clear voices. While you won’t notice much surround use, you aren’t supposed so, this mix remains in the front channels most of the time. The dialogue is clear, very clear, and every word is crisp and easily audible. The beauty of this track is that is doesn’t try to force surround use, which is rare on this format.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The disc includes a five minute behind the scenes featurette and the theatrical trailer.