[box cover]

Anywhere But Here

Wayne Wang's Anywhere but Here must have seemed like a sure thing from the very earliest stages of pre-production: a comedy about a teenage girl's coming-of-age — and the way her newfound independence terrifies her domineering, overprotective mother — certainly had the potential to delight audiences, particularly when the two leading roles are being played by, respectively, Natalie Portman and Susan Sarandon. The good news is, the film succeeds more often than not. Wang, the mastermind behind the refreshingly innovative (albeit flawed) Chinese Box, is infinitely confident behind the camera here, managing to coax strong performances from his leading ladies and repeatedly finding interesting ways to set-up even mundane situations so that they feel fresh and new. The problem, however, is that the screenplay runs out of steam long before Wang does, and the second half of the film often seems mired in itself (in particular, Susan Sarandon becomes a caricature of fretful mothers long before the script stops trying to convince you that she's — well — a fretful mother). A good story — and two great performances — are regrettably hindered by poor pacing and a lack of focus. Good anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer. Includes a "making-of" featurette and a theatrical trailer. Keep-case.
—Joe Barlow

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