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After two failed marriages, Adele (Susan Sarandon) wants out of small time Bay City, but her enthusiasm for a new adventure is not shared by her 14 year old daughter, Ann (Natalie Portman), who has to leave behind her friends and the security of a more or less normal life. Bitching and biting at each other, mother and daughter and up in Los Angeles, where Adele is anxious to hook into the good life - whether she can afford it or not. And to push Ann onto the screen as a young actress. They struggle and fight and try each to find their own happiness even as they slowly change as a result. Daughter learns the value of her mother's care, and mother learns the importance of letting her child be her own self.

"The world of Anywhere But Here is filled with chaos, ups and downs, hopes, fears, laughter and tears: just like life itself. There are no special effects, no earth shattering plot lines, but in no way does this lessen its impact. A poignant and beautifully written human drama, Anywhere But Here is a richly observed story about a mother and daughter struggling to find themselves (and each other). Here is an example of great writing and performances; there is no melodrama or manipulation as we traverse the awkward teen years and their compelling love/hate relationship. All this is showcased by polished cinematography and direction that makes the ordinary seem extraordinary. Danny Elfman's soundtrack never intrudes but adds colour and texture. Susan Sarandon is magnificent that comes as no surprise. Hers is the kind of character who will keep talking, whether anyone is listening or not. Adele is larger than life and an ultra optimist who lives by codes of unorthodox and often inappropriate behaviour. The nemesis of her conservative daughter Ann, Adele is the kind of mother a girl might cringe about; yet she is totally irresistible, her zest for life infectious. The big surprise is Natalie Portman who delivers a nuanced, naturalistic performance, holding her own against the polished Sarandon, and dazzles in her own right. Portman, a classic beauty reminiscent of a young Julia Roberts or Natalie Wood is sensational; hers is truly a star in the ascendant. Ann longs for a normal life; Adele wants anything but. The clash of these two opposite personalities and goals makes way for an uplifting, moving and memorable journey. Don't let noises about this being a chick's flick put you off Anywhere But Here is a special film that anyone with feelings will adore."
Louise Keller

"Whatever the secret, Wayne Wang (Joy Luck Club, Chinese Box) has found it: Anywhere But Here is the most engaging and effective film about the generation gap in today's America - and beyond. The pains of adult awakening crashing into the joys of it, the complex love hate relationship with a parent, the awful determination that drives a mother to hell on her path of good intentions . . .it's all here in close up, and more. The mother and daughter relationship is a framework that makes the emotion-laden journey full of bitter sweet moments; and much of the film's success is thanks to two award and heart winning performances that take us into the minds and souls of these two mismatched yet genetically joined people at different moments in their lives. Adapted from a novel written by a woman, the script and direction (by men) capture the agony and ecstasy of women's eternally emotionally turbulent lives with compassion."
Andrew L. Urban

"Wayne Wang has made some punkish low-budget films in the past (check out Life Is Cheap, Toilet Paper Is Expensive) but with this star-driven Hollywood weepie he seems happy to play things straight. Still, he directs with skill and understatement, surrounding the characters with a lot of space - appropriately, since this is a film about isolation, concentrating on the interplay between a mother and child alone together. Susan Sarandon's portrayal of a brassy working-class screwball is entertaining if strained, relying heavily on props (big hair, Mid-western twang, false eyelashes, plastic sunglasses, cigarettes) and related schtick. Most of the best scenes belong to Natalie Portman, and not just because she's amazingly pretty, or because she gets to underplay while Sarandon acts kooky (Anne mumbles and sulks through long car trips, looking out the window while her mother gabbles on). Alternately recessive and bratty, Portman remains hard to pin down: she can seem completely grown-up in some scenes and an odd androgynous child in others, and she never gives you her whole character at once, so she's always capable of doing something unexpected. Anne considers herself much more sensible and mature than her mother, and one sign of the film's limitations is that it tends to simply endorse this view. It's suggested that Adele and Anne are similar in their yearning for freedom, but this would be more believable if Anne, too, was shown as a victim of awkwardness and self-delusion. The film never does this; it never suggests that Anne's desire to attend a swanky East Coast college may be as insecure a fantasy as Adele's vicarious dreams of TV stardom. While Adele is trapped in middle-age, poverty and bad taste, there's nothing strained about Natalie Portman's elegance: Ann is a class act through and through."
Jake Wilson

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Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0



CAST: Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Eileen Ryan, Corbin Allred, Ray Baker, John Diehl, Shawn Hatosy, Bonnie Bedelia

DIRECTOR: Wayne Wang

PRODUCER: Laurence Marc

SCRIPT: Alvin Sargent (from the novel by Mona Simpson)


EDITOR: Nicholas C. Smith

MUSIC: Danny Elfman, (also songs), Lisa Loeb


RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 3, 2000

VIDEO RELEASE: May 24, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: FOx Home Entertainment

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