Anywhere But Here


Directed by: Wayne Wang
Written by:Alvin Sargent
Starring: Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Eileen Ryan, Shawn Hatosy
Released: February 3, 2000
Grade: B+

The sentiment is packed on in Wayne Wang’s (Smoke) new studio pic, Anywhere But Here.  Susan Sarandon stars as Adele, a mother with a 14-year-old daughter named Ann (Natalie Portman).  Adele has an eccentric streak about her.  She’s tired of living like everyone else in Bay City, Wisconsin and one day packs up with Ann and heads off to Beverley Hills with no cash or prospects.

Adele wants to find a dream job, a dream house and have her daughter become a dream actress.  Ann is a contrast - she enjoyed her life in Bay City, she didn’t want to leave her family and friends, and had no thoughts of becoming an actress but such is the bond between a mother and daughter, she reluctantly follows.

This is a tear-jerking drama with a lot of heart but at times becomes bogged down when the story deepens.  Controversy surrounded the film when Portman originally turned down the role after the script required a sex scene and Sarandon followed suit quoting he would only do the film with Portman.  Based on the finished product, it’s easy to see why both wanted to work together - they bring out the best in each other.

A lot of the younger audience with feel a repore with Ann.  Sarandon beautifully captures the role as the overbearing mother who only wants the best for her daughter but can’t give her the freedom she yearns for.

Based upon the book by Mona Simpson, Anywhere But Here’s main flaw is that it plays out too much like a novel.  As each subplot unfolds, it seems all too coincidental and predictable leaving a finished product that is unsurprising.  Just what was the point of it all?

As time passes, this film will be remembered as the time the two great actresses, Oscar winner Susan Sarandon and future Oscar winner Natalie Portman, starred together.  It’s a shame the two couldn’t find a more productive script to support their talent.