Ossus Library Index Drama Movie Index


Directed by Wayne Wang (1999, 20th Century Fox)
Starring Susan Sarandon, and Natalie Portman

A mature teenage girl and her seemingly immature mother move from a small town to Hollywood, and discover they need each other.



4 stars

November 21st, 1999 in the Theatre


This was a wonderful coming-of-age drama starring a teenaged girl and her mother.  Exactly who is coming of age is open to debate.  The girl, Ann, wants things to stay the same.  She misses her small town life, with her cousin and best friend.  Her mother wants to live in Hollywood. 

The story follows their relationship as Ann grows, and her mother dreams.  You can see how Ann is growing, and at one point, she seems to be the mother, as opposed to the daughter.  She is the responsible one, the one who has to comfort her mother when things go wrong. 

Susan Sarandon is great as the mother, silly and irresponsible, but only to a point.  She stops before she becomes annoying.  You can see how desperately she wants to live at the top, but also how she doesn't want to work to get there. 

Natalie Portman, however, is the one who steals the show.  Her range of acting ability seems to be immense.  She could be annoyingly teen-like, in her moodiness.  She could be on the verge of tears, happy with joy, angry and ever so uncertain or disappointed, all within moments of each other.  And she played them all very convincingly. 

Both characters were real.  Both characters could elicit the joy and sadness of a single mother with her daughter.  It is a testament to that reality when I felt so much for them that I wanted to know what happened after that kiss and hug, when the scene with Ann and Peter ended.  But I'm glad they left it at that.

The most emotionally wrenching scenes were the audition, when Ann uses her mother's actions as an improv act and her mother walks in, and when her mother suddenly decides she can't go to a Christmas party and tries to look strong while sending Ann on her way. 

Another scene that got my attention, while not emotionally wrenching, was when Ann goes back to the small town and sees how small it really is.  Everything's changed, indeed.

There were no moments that rang false in this movie.  But I do have to wonder how healthy that relationship between Ann and her cousin was.  They seemed way too close. 

All in all, a keeper, and one that I would definitely recommend.


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