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Anywhere but Here
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
What's the story?
Adele (Susan Sarandon), a free-spirited teacher, takes her 14-year-old daughter Ann (Natalie Portman) to Los Angeles in a gold-colored Mercedes. Ann resents her mother for taking her away from everything she knows, and she misses her family and friends in Wisconsin. Adele dreams of a more glamorous life and wider opportunities for Ann. They struggle with each other and take care of each other until Ann leaves for college. Once Ann is ready to be on her own, she can admit to herself and to Adele how much she loves her.
Is it any good?
ANYWHERE BUT HERE does a good job of portraying adolescence from both the teen's and the parent's perspectives. It's a stage of life that begins with an avalanche of mortifying self-awareness: All of a sudden, everything is embarrassing, especially parents, in whose eyes teens can see their past more easily than their future. Adele's relish for more than she can find in Wisconsin is unsettling to Anne. Adele says, "I wish someone had kidnapped me back when I was your age," and Ann responds, "So do I!"
Throughout the movie, Ann and Adele do a sort of relationship minuet, stepping toward each other, and then away. Ann imitates Adele in an acting audition, and Adele sees that she appears self-deluding and foolish to her daughter. Adele often acts more like Ann's sister or even daughter than her mother. But when she needs to be the adult, to make the sacrifices necessary to help her child, she comes through.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Ann's decision to have sex with a boy who has a crush on her, which is more a reaction to a cool reception from the father who abandoned her than a reflection of a mature and intimate relationship. When she invites him over and tells him to take off his clothes, her words are tough, even cold, but when he walks over to her she throws her arms around him and holds him as though she is desperate for human contact.
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