I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Elizabethtown, Part 1

A year ago, I wrote a series of posts about the movie Elizabethtown. They've turned out to be some of my favorite posts. Unfortunately, I didn't have comments turned on when I posted them originally. Over the next few days, I'm going to repost the series. I thought it would be neat to post them on successive days so you can catch the entire flow.

Elizabethtown is the story about how Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom) loses his job in a shoe manufacturing company after his failed shoe design, that he's been working on for eight years, costs his company close to a billion dollars. He knows that he's about to be fired, but to make matters worse, before it happens, his boss makes him face public humiliation as a spokesperson for the failure to reporter who is working on a cover story for a major magazine.

As Drew heads to his final meeting with his boss, he makes an insightful observation: "I have recently become a secret connoisseur of last looks. You know the way people look at you when they believe it's for the last time? I started collecting these looks."

On the brink of suicide, Drew comes home to a phone call informing him that his father just died. So, he numbly boards a plane in Oregon bound for Elizabethtown, Kentucky to handle his father's affairs and that's when he meets Claire (Kirsten Dunst)—a bubbly, quirky, flight attendant who is instantly infatuated with Drew. She draws him a map of where he needs to go in Elizabethtown and just so Drew gets the message, she gives him all of her phone numbers.

After Drew checks into a hotel, he tries to call a couple of people, but when he can't reach them, he calls Claire. He opens up to her and they begin to talk about everything: road trips, crazy families, how his parents met, how people perceive each other, how people deal with death, and before they knew it, they'd been on the phone until the early morning hours. So, only a couple of hours before Claire has to be awake, they decide to forgo sleep so they can meet to watch the sunrise together.

The next day, after neither of them had a wink of sleep the night before, Claire helps Drew with his dad's arrangements. That night, as they are walking through Elizabethtown, she turns to him and says: "You and I have a special talent. And I saw it immediately. We're the substitute people. I've been the substitute person my whole life. I'm not an Ellen [a co-worker Drew was into]. I never wanted to be an Ellen. And I'm not a Cindy either. Although Chuck's love me [Chuck and Cindy are the couple next to Drew in the hotel who are getting married…as for the "Chuck's love me" line…you'll just have to see the movie to get it]. I like being alone too much. I mean, I'm with a guy who is married to his academic career. I rarely see him and I'm the substitute person there. I like it that way. It's a lot less pressure."

Who hasn't felt like a substitute person at some point? While being a substitute person does mean that you had to be close enough to the real thing to earn the title of substitute, it also means that you weren't quite good enough, or funny enough, or smart enough, or good-looking enough. And the worst thing about it is—you know it, but since being a substitute person is better than not being in the game, you accept the position.

But when two people, like Drew and Claire are drawn together, neither has the look or feel of a substitute to one another. Instead, each person becomes the new standard for originality. But originality often leads to an internal struggle between grasping it while one still can and freedom—without which, originals quickly move into the past tense.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...