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Anywhere But Here

The book Anywhere But Here was made into the movie Anywhere But Here.

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Book details for Anywhere But Here

Anywhere But Here was written by Mona Simpson. The book was published in 1986 by Vintage. More information on the book is available on Amazon.com.

 

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"Strangers always love my mother," Ann August tells us at the start of Anywhere But Here. "And even if you hate her, can't stand her, even if she's ruining your life, there's something about her, some romance, some power. She's absolutely herself. No m... Read More
"Strangers always love my mother," Ann August tells us at the start of Anywhere But Here. "And even if you hate her, can't stand her, even if she's ruining your life, there's something about her, some romance, some power. She's absolutely herself. No matter how hard you try, you'll never get to her. And when she dies, the world will be flat, too simple, reasonable, fair." Indeed, over the course of the dozen or so years chronicled in Mona Simpson's first novel, Ann and everyone else related to the charming, delusional Adele learn this the hard way. Ann does hate her at times; Adele does indeed come pretty close to ruining Ann's life on numerous occasions, or at least scarring it, and yet, ultimately, it isn't possible not to love her. As Ann puts it: "The thing about my mother and me is that when we get along we're just the same."

This is a woman who uproots her child from Wisconsin and moves to Los Angeles, leaving behind a dull husband (not Ann's father--who wandered off long ago but makes appearances here in memories), under the premise that life will be beautiful and Ann will become a famous television star. But her lifelong dream and goal ("It was our secret, a nighttime whispered promise" turns out, like so many things in the Augusts' lives, to be lackluster when it becomes reality. Adele merely feeds on fantasy and drags her daughter along.

Nevertheless, it's hard not to worship her. We hear from her mother, her sister, from Ann, and finally from Adele herself, and no matter how she's used people, what trouble she's gotten into, or what lies she's told--and there are plenty of all three--a certain amount of awe always remains. When we come upon Ann's proclamation that "it's always the people like my mother, who start the noise and bang things, who make you feel the worst; they are the ones who get your love." It's startling to realize how heartily we agree with her. Anywhere But Here gives truth to this statement in a way that few books ever have. It's dense with misery and amazement all tangled together--a realistic and thus rare portrait of love. --Melanie Rehak

Movie details for Anywhere But Here

The movie was released in 1999 and directed by Wayne Wang, who also directed Eat a Bowl of Tea (1989) and Because of Winn-Dixie (2005). Anywhere But Here was produced by 20th Century Fox. More information on the movie is available on Amazon.com and also IMDb.

Actors on this movie include Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Hart Bochner, Eileen Ryan, Ray Baker, John Diehl, Shawn Hatosy, Bonnie Bedelia, Faran Tahir, Shishir Kurup, Samantha Goldstein, Scott Burkholder, Yvonna Kopacz, Eva Amurri, Kieren Van Den Blink, Jennifer Castle, Caroline Aaron, Bebe Drake, Paul Guilfoyle (II) and Allison Sie.

 

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In Wayne Wang's star-driven adaptation of Mona Simpson's tragicomic bestseller about a mismatched mother and daughter, fortysomething Adele August (Susan Sarandon) is every adolescent's nightmare: over- (or under-) dressed, always and loudly "on," for... Read More
In Wayne Wang's star-driven adaptation of Mona Simpson's tragicomic bestseller about a mismatched mother and daughter, fortysomething Adele August (Susan Sarandon) is every adolescent's nightmare: over- (or under-) dressed, always and loudly "on," forgetful of mundane matters such as bills, more colorful kid than reliable mum. In contrast, 14-year-old Ann (Natalie Portman) yearns for stability, roots, understated hues. Transplanted from Wisconsin small town and extended family to a Beverly Hills, California, address of choice for American Dreamers like Adele, Ann comes painfully of age--sometimes blighted but also enriched by the fictions of a charismatic parent afraid to be alone in the dark.

Wang has always shown a sure, caring hand when it comes to cross-generational angst (see Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart, The Joy Luck Club, Smoke). Here, he encourages Sarandon in a remarkably brave, exposed performance as an aging adventuress whose imagination continually outstrips her ability to make dreams come true, whose charm is both her ticket to ride and a dead end. Portman's pout of strained adolescent distaste soon wears thin, but when The Phantom Menace's kabuki princess momentarily thaws, she projects a lost child's terrible shock and confusion. Hollywood-sized and scripted by the numbers, Anywhere but Here lost ground to Tumbleweeds, a similarly themed but more nuanced indie (with Oscar-nominated Janet McTeer), and it can't hold a candle to Barbara Stanwyck's Stella Dallas (1937), top of the line in this particular genre. But for any daughter who's looked into her mother's face and--yikes!--seen a possible future, this trip's definitely worth taking. --Kathleen Murphy