More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.66%
Worth A Look: 26.03%
Pretty Bad: 4.11%
Total Crap: 10.96%

8 reviews, 25 user ratings

Anywhere but Here
[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"I'm sorry, Mom. I'm sorry for everything."
4 stars

"Anywhere but Here" is a movie about a teen-age girl who has to help her mom grow up.

Films in which the parent is more irresponsible than the child have been done before, but this one manages to seem fresh and realistic, thanks to earnest and genuine performances from Natalie Portman as the teen-ager, Ann, and Susan Sarandon as her mom, Adele.

The movie starts with the two of them driving from Wisconsin to Beverly Hills. Adele, dressed too young for her age and full of blind optimism, wants to get out of the dead-end town she grew up in, and she's taking her daughter with her. (Seems mom wants her girl to be an actress, though Ann herself has no such ambitions.)

Adele gets a job in the Los Angeles School District, and Ann tries in vain to adjust to life away from everything she's ever known. She alternately hates her mother and gets along with her, all the while struggling to find something stable in life to hold onto.

Portman's performance is wrenching and powerful, as one by one Ann's chances for a "normal" life slip away. Watch her search for her father, who abandoned the family years ago. Watch her lose her extended family and friends. Watch her get more and more desperate for understanding, culminating in a love scene with a boy named Peter (Corbin Allred) that is at once awkward, hilarious and poignant.

In fact, that's the whole movie: funny one minute, making you cry right along with the often-crying Ann the next.

Sarandon does wonders with her character, too, though she is not quite as fleshed-out as Ann. Adele, despite being flighty, impulsive and irrational, never seems like a villain who is ruining her daughter's life. Certain incidents that point up her own self-delusion, as well as her love for her daughter, make her nearly as sympathetic as Ann.

"Anywhere but Here" is almost perfect, but not quite. There is little sense of time when the film opens, as Adele dresses out of style and their car is old. (We eventually figure out we're in the '90s.) And the bittersweet ending doesn't seem quite right. Ann has been stripped down to nothing, emotionally, and we expect she will be rebuilt, but the final scenes don't necessarily indicate that. One senses that logically, everything will be OK for her now, but we don't quite FEEL it the way we felt her loneliness before. It's like the pendulum has swung all the way to one side without swinging sufficiently to the other side, too.

Still, the film is warm and wonderful, relying on the strengths of its powerful actresses to engage the audience from start to finish.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 06/30/03 12:52:13
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

11/03/04 Dinulinuu I loved this movie, and the way natalie portman and that boy hug in the end is fantastic 5 stars
8/11/03 I Would Makes you wonder if the director ever was a teenager. 2 stars
7/08/03 Zelemont Flawless acting by Portman and Sarandon, but flawed script. Still, Portman rules. 4 stars
6/15/03 Jack Sommersby Sharply written, sensitively directed, anf flawlessly acted. One of 1999's 10-best. 5 stars
1/28/03 Jon C. Ericson Natalie Portman denied the Golden Globe due to name value ( Jolie (Voight)) 4 stars
11/28/02 Kelli Weston Great movie, made me cry 5 stars
11/16/02 Big Ted Where was Natalie Portman's Oscar nod? 4 stars
1/14/02 Flick Chick movie of the week-type nonsense. 2 stars
8/29/01 Gary Portman and Sarandon bode well in this slushy, run-of-the-mill, mechanical drama. 2 stars
8/24/01 eka saputra awesome, natalie is great 5 stars
6/26/01 Tzila Seewald CUTE! 4 stars
5/21/01 tnt a good movie....fabulous performances....a little slow at times 3 stars
3/27/01 so and so it was really good 5 stars
2/11/01 kwekwak a great movie! natalie portman is cool! 5 stars
6/08/00 Cole Jennett Natalie Portman is the reason I went to see this movie, but I would have liked it anyway. 5 stars
2/12/00 Skye Chapman mr.showbiz tells it like it is.(see below) i liked it. 4 stars
2/02/00 Joel Harwood Well i have seen it now and they cut things from it that were in the preview 4 stars
1/07/00 Joel Harwood WHAT A FILM 5 stars
11/30/99 Ryan Phillipe gets hit by a car and it Rules!!! Hello I am Mr. Sensitive 90's movie. Let me into your house for dinner so you can get laid. 5 stars
11/18/99 The Furtive Ventriliquist Gawd, do I ever want that Portman! 5 stars
11/15/99 John This movie is great....Natalie Portman is amazing. 5 stars
11/14/99 Jonathan Pinkerton The only way this movie is snubbed for Oscars, is if the Acedemy is blind 5 stars
11/14/99 K. Amidala Sarandon is always good & Portman is a surprise, but stay the fuck away from this movie 1 stars
11/14/99 MrShowbiz Familiar tale of mother-daughter bonding doesn't break much new ground. 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  12-Nov-1999 (PG-13)


  03-Feb-2000 (PG)

Directed by
  Wayne Wang

Written by
  Alvin Sargent
  Mona Simpson

  Natalie Portman
  Hart Bochner
  Bonnie Bodelia
  Ashley Johnson

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast