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20th Century Fox presents
Anywhere But Here (1999)

"What kept me going was the thought that someday I would leave her."
- Ann (Natalie Portman)

Review By: Robert Mandel   
Published: May 02, 2000

Stars: Susan Sarandon
Other Stars: Natalie Portman
Director: Wayne Wang

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sex-related material
Run Time: 01h:53m:45s
Release Date: May 02, 2000
UPC: 658769212631
Genre: Drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Tired of life in Bay City, a small Wisconsin town, the slightly over-the-top Adele August (Sarandon) moves her daughter Ann (Portman) to LA without a job or a place to live lined up. Ann, a senior in high school, wants less to do with the move than she does with her mother, whose moxie endlessly embarrasses her. Ignoring that her daughter must leave behind her friends, her mother has a dream of perfect big town life in LA, followed by a successful career as an actress for her daughter. But Ann is a serious student who does nothing more than plan her eventual escape. "Just because she gave me life doesn't mean she going to let me have one," she quips.

They settle into a shabby fleabag apartment in Beverly Hills, with no furniture save a mattress on the floor. When Adele gets the teaching position, she's ecstatic—until she discovers the school is in a less than ideal neighborhood, and the children are maggots. Finding it is not half as hard as keeping it all together, she also finds, as the two often come home to darkness, Adele not having paid the bills as usual.

When Adele attempts to use Ann to talk her way out of a parking ticket, Ann runs off in a huff down the street. The cop runs after her, here playing the role of the Shakespearean fool—the most unlikely character doling out the sagest advice. "I'm sure you will [leave her]," he says, "but not tonight. Not when your angry..." So Adele discovers life is not as simple and perfect as she expected, and she finds that LA may not be the answer to everything. As Susan Sarandon says, "Adele is doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons." Something Ann needs to figure out for herself.

Whether it's barging into a house for sale in a ritzy neigborhood without an appointment, or picking up dentists on the beach, Susan Sarandon shines as Adele August. I believe many another actress would not have been able to imbue into Adele's character such a fine, gentle mix of emotional range, rather playing up her extrovertion and denying the underlying self-doubt from which it stems. Equal to the task is Natalie Portman, whose wonderfully understated performance produces the perfect foil, and keeps the entire experience believable. I was very impressed with her, and since she garnered a Golden Globe® Best Supporting Actress nomination, I'd have to say I wasn't the only one.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreenno - no
Original Aspect Ratioyesno

Image Transfer Review: Fox continues to deliver on their promise of anamorphic transfers from here on out, even for a character film that grossed only $18 million at the box office. Bravo, Fox!Their change of heart pays off with this very clean,bright rendering. The colors shine throughout, and color timer must have had to work overtime just rendering some of Sarandon's outfits correctly. The image is very sharp, with good shadow delineation and very nice blacks. There is some minor edge enhancement, but nothing to lose sleep over. Over all, this is an excellent transfer that may even be bumped up to an A+—it's that good.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchno
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The soundtrack is layman in nature, but I wouldn't expect much for a dialogue heavy film anyway. So, it is appropriate that the DS2.0 and DD5.0 tracks are center heavy, and that the dialogue is well rendered and easily understood. Ambient effects are few and far between. The most noticeable difference between the 2.0 and 5.0 tracks is the loudness and fuller soundstage during the two songs used. An adequate effort.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Alpha
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single
Layers Switch: na

Extras Review: The weakest aspect of this disc is the lack of any real supplements, as it contains only a non-anamorphic 1.85:1(?) trailer (which does contain omitted shots) and a five+ minute promotional featurette with interview snippets with cast and crew.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Anywhere But Here is a lovely film about being a teenager in a strange single parent relationship, slightly more realistic than The Slums of Beverly Hills. Wonderful performances by Sarandon and Portman highlight this genuine film about a mother and daughter, filled with laughter and tears. Recommended.


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