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Anywhere but here - Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Hart Bochner, Wayne Wang

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

A story of a mother who knows best... and a daughter who knows better.

It is mid-summer 1995 as a 1978 Mercedes zooms down the highway, heading west. Inside sit 14-year-old Ann August (Natalie Portman) and her mother Adele (Susan Sarandon). Against her will, Ann is being moved to Beverly Hills where Adele, stifled by small-town life in Bay City, Wisconsin, hopes to make her colourful dreams come true. Ann is furious at having to leave the life she loves. Adele is tired of defending herself against her daughter's longings for home and family, and feels that she's taking Ann away from a life-less-ordinary future and offering her an exciting new world.

Their first stop in Los Angeles is the Beverly Hills Hotel, the symbol of Adele's quest; they then head off to a Travelodge motel and what will become their real life - meals at diners and a very ordinary one-bedroom apartment in the flats of Beverly Hills.

Over the next two years, Ann and Adele adjust to the reality of life in Los Angeles. Their relationship is close, but always volatile. Adele remains on the outside looking in, always wanting more. Ann is the realist, seeing things for what they are, sometimes more the mother than the daughter.

Together, mother and daughter are on a journey of discovery - of new possibilities, of their respective dreams and of each other.

Persons of interest

  • Susan Sarandon .... Adele August
  • Natalie Portman .... Ann August
  • Hart Bochner .... Josh Spritzer
  • Eileen Ryan .... Lillian
  • Ray Baker .... Ted
  • John Diehl .... Jimmy
  • Shawn Hatosy .... Benny
  • Bonnie Bedelia .... Carol
  • Faran Tahir .... Hisham
  • Mona Simpson .... Author
  • Alvin Sargent .... Screenwriter
  • Wayne Wang .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Wild mothers and conservative daughters. There was a TV programme about that. What was it called... Family ties? Michael J Fox, Justine Bateman and others. Started out as being about hippy parents and ended up being about mainstream kids. My flatmate is a wild hippy with a nice, normal, conservative daughter. Is this some kind of inter-generational conservative backlash?

Oh well, on with the review.

Anywhere but here is not just about differing points of view, it's about the way parents take their children for granted, never including them in decisions that affect them, like moving to the other side of the country to live. And then wondering why teenagers are so moody.


Parents just don't understand.

Susan is the ditzy mother with delusions of grandeur and a passion for the wrong clothes. Her dream of leaving the one horse town in which she was born and was intended to die is an admirable one (I am speaking as something of a black sheep here) but the execution is not. Perhaps that's a part of the character, leaping in where angels fear to tread, but it doesn't endear her to the audience let alone her daughter.

Natalie had not yet done The Padme/Amidala thing, but this film lets you see why George Lucas chose her. She's as accomplished an actor as Susan with a fresh, new feel. Like any upset teenager the resentment simmers just one unpaid electricity bill from the surface while happiness is only an ice cream away.

Mmm... sugar...

The confrontations between these two headstrong and fiery women burn with an undisguised love and resentment which carries your interest through the comic relief scenes (like cruising around looking at houses they can't afford and picking up furniture thrown out by the Beverley Hills rich folk) which are needed to stop the film from becoming a two-bitch bicker-fest. At the same time, the interdependence of the two characters and the need for them to be free of each other creates a tension fraught with possibilities.

Anywhere but here is a tight, intense movie that will appeal to women and adults (not that the two are mutually exclusive) alike. It's funny, it's bitter, it's sweet, and with the exception of the guardian policeman with lots of good advice it's utterly believable. Have fun watching it.

PS: You might like to compare Anywhere but here with Looking for Alibrandi, an Australian film about daughters and mothers going head to head in the eastern suburbs (where else?).

Security censorship classification

PG (Adult themes, sexual references, low level coarse languages)

Surveillance time

114 minutes (1:54 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

DVD retail: 22 January 2003

Cinema surveillance images

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