Cameron Crowe is certainly no stranger to romantic movies, however, instead of opting out for the ridiculously cliché romantic comedy or an ultimately sappy one on the other end of the spectrum, Crowe simply makes his films real and relies on much of his own personal experiences. Elizabethtown falls perfectly into this category. But, unlike many of his past successes, Elizabethtown fails on several thematic fronts and, more so then any previous film, save for the mediocre Singles, appears as nothing else than an excuse to wrap a story around a killer soundtrack.
Orlando Bloom’s Drew and Kirsten Dunst’s Claire do share a great on-screen chemistry and their all-night talk session on the phone draws the audience into the beginning stages of their relationship; one that you hope to see succeed knowing full well that a happy ending is in store for all. Well, other than Drew’s dead dad, of course.
For Drew, his issues of failure and the conflicting desire to re-build versus the impending dark date with his own personal destiny are what drive the character. When first introduced, Drew’s mantra is, “I feel fine,” and even the most naïve of viewers are aware of the fact that he most certainly is not. During the course of the film, he is told by Claire to “let go.” Still later, the childhood ed flick featuring Rusty ends with the positive note of, “building a new house.” Both of these key moments are thematically ignored. The closest Drew ever comes to “letting go” is struggling over a cremation vs. burial issue. A new house is never built. Instead he discovers an old one filled with estranged family members and a rock-n-roll cousin he befriends.
Where the film succeeds is during the latter part of the final act when it becomes a road movie. Music and cinematography merge together as Drew discovers, and enjoys time with, his father. The solitude Crowe creates while listening to the likes of Tom Petty, Elton John and U2 capture those personal moments that relate oh-so well to real life.
Elizabethtown meets the requirements of good familial memories, the desire for new love and the quest for the open road but this particularly personal tale from Crowe is perhaps too introspective leaving the viewer with nothing more than montages of a Southern wake and cell phone call that totally used up all those “whenever” minutes. Drew becomes a good character to watch and enjoy. It is unfortunate that his story does not match up with the likes of Lloyd Dobler, William Miller or Jerry Maguire.