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Movie Review

In Anywhere But Here, a sullen teenage girl struggles to endure the restless flakiness of her superficial mother, all the while aching for her own independence. It's an evenly paced relationship movie shaped by two great performances.

With her sights set on Beverly Hills, Adele August packs up her daughter, hops into the beloved Mercedes that symbolizes her quest for status, and leaves rural Wisconsin in her rearview mirror. Adele is a free-spirit in the process of deserting her second husband. But Ann resents being ripped away from her friends and family, cousin Benny in particular. Tensions run high. The pair can't seem to resist provoking each other, Mom by imposing her own dreams on her teen, and Ann by delivering deadpan barbs designed to let Mom know that she doesn't want to be anything like her. They fight. They cry. They hug. It's a war of wills that relies on humor and sorrow to tug our heartstrings.

Sarandon and Portman share terrific chemistry. If not for some profanity, alcohol use, frank sexual dialogue (Ann and her male cousin discuss breasts and "getting laid") and Ann having a boy undress for her, Anywhere But Here could have been a see-worthy character study.

On the plus side, sacrificial acts of love become meaningful milestones for Adele and her daughter. We also see how weak, selfish men can damage the women in their lives. And while Adele's romantic failures—including a one-night stand with an orthodontist—show a lack of moral integrity, they also have painful repercussions. On the whole, it's a well-acted, thoughtful film with a few too many caveats to earn it a hearty thumbs-up.

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Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Eileen Ryan, Corbin Allred, Ray Baker


Wayne Wang ( )


20th Century Fox



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Bob Smithouser

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