The following is my third submission to Lee’s newspaper, “The Clarion”.
“Everyday needs a purpose.” This is a quote from a great movie. A movie that reminds us to live passionately. A story that makes us want to do things. This movie is worth applauding. And it’s called Elizabethtown. It is Cameron Crowe’s newest film, which he wrote, directed, and produced. In it, he tells a semi-biographical tale using a luscious American backdrop and an array of music ranging from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to Patty Griffith.
Orlando Bloom is Drew Baylor, a young man whose eight year plight to design the “perfect” shoe turns into a $972 million blunder. He loses his job, his girlfriend, and his self respect. And when he thinks life couldn’t be worse, Drew’s sister calls to inform him that he’s also lost his father. As he strains to keep his own life together, it is up to Drew to keep his family from unraveling as well. This means returning to his father’s hometown of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, to retrieve his father’s remains and discover roots he never knew existed. On his flight, he meets Claire (Kirsten Dunst), a quirky flight attendant who immediately takes an interest in Drew. Drew tries to dismiss her, as he is far too busy swimming in a sea of pity and self loathing. But strangely, he cannot ignore her luminance and a romance buds between them.
Crowe’s accurate portrayal of the South and the people we recognize there, their good and bad attributes, struck me as noteworthy. The infamous Southern hospitality, the home cooking, the disapproval of cremation, summer humidity, and the grudge toward those who leave their Southern roots to live elsewhere. Crowe didn’t miss a mark and I was pleased at his ability to tell the truth.
While watching the film, I found myself thinking of various words to describe Elizabethtown. “Whimsical” was one. “Joyful” and “melancholy” were others. But the word that repeated itself over and over was “unconventional”. This movie was unconventional in the best sense. Crowe’s chosen method of film making was much different than what I have seen in many years. It seems that he was attempting to tell a relatable story, which required an unconventional storyline. Because how often can we identify with a movie, saying to ourselves, “That could actually happen to me”? Others have misconstrued the “unconventional” aspect of Elizabethtown with “having too many storylines.” This is not the case. Every step in the story follows accordingly and cannot be left out. That is how life is. One thing after the next. Life keeps going. It never stops. And Crowe depicts this fact of life perfectly, without losing his audience or damaging any character’s consistencies.
Movies are capable of possessing vitality and Elizabethtown is full of it. “If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that ‘success,’ not ‘greatness’, is the only god that everyone on this earth serves,” Drew says as he embraces a new life. That was a lesson to me. As well as a reminder. Because there is far more to life than just my own.