I don’t think that I have ever done a flip-flip on a movie as cataclysmic as the shift in my opinion on Elizabethtown. As much as I respect and admire Cameron Crowe I just didn’t get Elizabethtown when I saw it at the Toronto International Film Festival this year. That cut of the movie was too long, too self-indulgent and frankly, boring. I changed my mind, however, when I saw the Slim Fast version of the movie that has been cut by about half-an-hour.
Crowe has trimmed the fat off the story about a young man—played by Orlando Bloom—who has just designed a shoe that was supposed to revolutionize the industry, but instead is a disaster, losing close to a billion dollars. At the same time he must deal with the death of his father, his extended family in Elizabethtown Kentucky and a perky flight attendant he meets on the way to his father’s memorial service. This time less really is more. The ruthless editing saved the movie, turning it into an enjoyable darkly comic romance.
Crowe has always had a deft hand at directing women—think Rene Zellweger in Jerry Maguire, Cameron Diaz in Vanilla Sky or Kate Hudson in Almost Famous and in Elizabethtown he shines the light on Kirsten Dunst. She is frequently good in films, but she really steals this movie as the cute and kooky stewardess who helps keep Bloom’s head screwed on during his bereavement. She has several unforgettable moments—when she tells Bloom to stop trying to break up with her; her giggly reaction when Bloom asks her a personal question on the telephone. Without her performance the trip to Elizabethtown wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.