Friday, January 25, 2008

Poor Drew. There he is working for a successful sports manufacturer, making lots of money and living the American dream. Then he has the misfortune of losing the company close to $1 billion by creating a disgusting sports shoe. Needless to say his boss isn’t terribly impressed. He’s going to lose his basketball team and his ‘global environmental project’. Therefore it’s quite understandable that Drew would be feeling rather low. And it’s not that surprising that he’s suicidal. But then his father croaks. Oh sweet fucking hell, here comes the pain. We’re going to be taken on a journey. We’re going to find out what makes life so fucking precious.

But just when you begin to baulk at the prospect of yet another twee, quirky, self-indulgent, life-affirming piece of shit, you meet Claire (Kirsten Dunst). And the way it’s filmed makes her role in the film immediately clear. Drew, by rigging a knife to an exercise bike in a hil-arious attempt at suicide, says that nothing is going to stop him from killing himself. Cut to Claire. Oh, so she’s his saviour? Okay. Too bad then that she’s a boring, narcissistic, egotistical puddle of monkey piss that would make any right-thinking individual want to shove a grenade in her huge fucking gob. Or at the very least she should tip a suicidal man over the edge and finally prove to him that there is no god and that life is futile and that the only solution is a warm knife implanted in one’s chest. What a worthless human being she is.

However, like a hungry dog begging for treats, the film asks us to love her. It wants us to fall for her. Too bad, then, that this dog has mange and needs putting down. For fuck’s sake, in her opening scene she not only makes a point of correcting Drew’s pronunciation, but she harasses him as he tries to get some sleep on the flight he’s on - she even switches his light back on as he tries to get some kip and draws a map for him so that he can find Elizabethtown. Oh how sweet. Oh how quirky. Yes, I just love colossal bores who just wont shut their mouths and who only care about stroking their own egos.

But it gets worse. In the same scene she then goes on to say that she’s a student of names. Apparently Bens are strangely delightful and intuitive. They’re even almost too complex to be around. Hey, I know a Ben quite well and that’s complete arse. He’s a simple-minded, miserable wanker. In your face you scary, teeny-toothed twat from hell!

But the pain hasn’t ended yet. When the flight lands, and as Drew is making his way through the airport, Claire chases after him. She shouts and repeats the name of the road he needs to take. But she doesn’t do it once. She doesn’t even do it twice. She does it three times. And then she takes a fake photo of the frightened man with her fingers as he almost runs away. Fuck me. This final action almost makes her look psychotic. Here’s this person I’ve just met and I’m already obsessing about him. What’s next? Is she going to kidnap him and fuck him brutally in the arse with a strap-on and then take a fake snap as blood seeps out of his distended anus and as he yelps in pain? Or is she going to saw off his testicles and feed them to him with a nice orange sauce and take another pic? With this girl anything is possible.

However, the things that happen later are worse. Far, far worse.

One of the worst scenes occurs after Claire and Drew sleep together. He chases her and then with one of the most disgusting smug grins I’ve ever seen, she says, ‘Just tell me you love me and get it over with.’ This she says to someone she’s known for a few days. This she says to someone who is obviously in distress (well, okay, it’s not entirely obvious, as Bloom can’t emote one bit, but the intention of the scene is that he’s sad). You self-obsessed bitch. Get over yourself. And then Drew confesses that he lost his company a billion dollars and says he’s a little upset. What’s Claire’s reaction? I think the dialogue goes something like this: ‘That’s it? I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I guess I just thought a small part of you might be a small bit sad to see me go. But I guess this is just mostly about a shoe.’ You fucking narcissistic cunt. Yeah, everything is about you. How do you feel? How does this affect you? If I could have reached into the screen and throttled her, I would have.

But Claire isn’t the only narcissist. There’s also Drew’s mother. When her husband dies she declares that she wants to learn how to cook, how to laugh and how to tap dance. And tap dance she does at her husband’s funeral. And she does so to her husband’s favourite song, but it’s completely tokenistic. Again, it’s look at me! Look how great I am! But that aside, the scene is excruciating in how contrived it is. I tell you, if anyone tap dances at my funeral, I’ll come back from the dead and kill them. You’ve been warned.

Earlier in the scene there’s yet more evidence of how contrived the humour in the film is. Drew’s mother, who the locals are weary of, gets up and makes a speech. How does she win them over (before the hideous tap dancing)? She tells a story about a neighbour who offered her his condolences and then got a boner when he hugged her. Oh how risqué! Oh how amusing! It’s so far-fetched it has to be true! And that’s one of the many things I hate about this shit stain of a film. There’s not one normal person. Not one normal moment. Every little scene is self-consciously quirky. Yet the film is meant to exist in the real world. We’re meant to look at these people and go, ‘Oh, it’s just like my family!’ But reality is nothing like this. If it were, I’d have killed myself long ago.

To make matters worse, after the self-conscious quirkiness of the funeral (tap-dancing, prop birds catching fire, sprinklers going off, the daughter embracing the ‘rain’), the final section attempts to make some half-arsed statement about America. Yeah Drew. You thought you were living the American dream. You had it all: money, adulation, pussy. But the real American dream lies in the small towns, in the prairies, in the forests, in the rivers. This is what matters: the small things. And love and family, too. Except the person who’s teaching you this is an obnoxious psycho. I mean, a journey with hand-drawn maps and mix CDs? Sounds kind of cute. Sounds like fun. Except the person is a control freak and is telling you how to think and how to feel. Yeah, you and Claire are going to have fun Drew. I give it a year before she has your balls in a jar. Either that or the broken remains of her skull will lie scattered on the floor as you weep senselessly about the remains of your love. Either of those scenarios could happen.

But anyway, isn't this film meant to be about grief and the sense of loss we feel when we lose someone close to us? Well, yeah, it's meant to be about that, but instead it's about pop music and a vacuous cunt-stain. We learn next to nothing about Drew's father and very little about their relationship. All we see are a few idyllic snippets. The film just doesn't give a shit about exploring genuine emotions. Instead it wants to concentrate on dickless music (there's a song virtually every ten seconds) and self-indulgent moments. Yeah, screaming children are so precious. Yeah, it's so cute when someone takes a fake photo of you as you hold your father's ashes. Damm, what a wonderful place Elizabethtown is. If only everyone could go there we'd all be better people. More kind, more loving, more generous. All we need in order to cope with grief are loveable, unrealistic neighbours, a few crushingly bland tunes and the love of an ego-maniac. Let the healing begin.

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