Photo | “Elsewhere” – Evoke
I watched “Elsewhere” strictly for Parker Posey; seeking her out is a guiding principle that always works for me. In this case, she led me to this quiet drama that also stars Aden Young (“Rectify”) as a sad sack widower who cannot get over the death of his wife, and the many people who try to help him.
Two years after the death of his wife, Bruno (Young) is still in deep mourning, regularly putting out fresh flowers and candles in front of a shrine of her photos. He is already hanging by a booze-soaked thread when his cruel in-laws decide to take back the house Bruno and his late wife designed and built on beautiful property the in-laws had gifted her. Reasoning that the land was intended for their daughter alone, and since Bruno lacks a will to clarify the situation, the in-laws evict Bruno; he is ill-equipped to handle this further assault on his mental health.
“Lacking a will” pretty much sums up Bruno’s life in general at this point, and that’s a strained metaphor for the movie. It’s the kind of movie that shamelessly makes its main character search for a literal and figurative will.
Bruno is an architect who barely goes to work despite the constant love and encouragement of his friends and parents. His parents are rather adorable, portrayed by Jacki Weaver and Beau Bridges (who I could not help but notice was almost definitely wearing his brother Jeff’s “Dude” sweater at one point). The parents struck a poignant note of unwavering support for their adult son, bordering on enabling but mostly just amusing. “Elsewhere” injects a wry levity to its tone, but asks Ken Jeong (“The Hangover”) to take on too much comedic heavy lifting as Felix, an extremely sweet, deeply stoned best friend to Bruno.
Evicted from and obsessed with his old house, Bruno meets the house’s new owner, which brings us to the light of the film/my life, Parker Posey. Clad in what I suspect might be her personal collection of scarves, turbans and headwraps, Posey plays Marie, the quintessential Manic Pixie Dream Girl, middle-aged version. She checks all the boxes for that girlfriend-savior trope — she’s free-spirited; she demands no commitment from our feckless hero; and she has an adorable interest she explains in a way that makes the hero go, “Gee I never looked at life that way before,” and that interest is moss, one of Earth’s most charming ground coverings.
Bruno poses as a contractor to do some work on the house, giving himself the excuse to hang around and fall in love with Marie while reluctantly renovating his beloved home. (It is lovely; it’s right on the water with lots of windows.) Best pal Felix continues to bend over backward for Bruno as they explore legal channels to get the house back and hassle the mean in-laws while riding a Vespa.
I was only medium-sold on Aden Young in general, but he isn’t supposed to be incredibly likable in this film. He is certainly flawed. There were enough good characters around him that viewers were given more to look at than just him squinting. He was effective as an infuriating and mopey guy, and he sort of looks like a mousey Viggo Mortensen. I mean, he’s no Parker Posey, but who is? He was good in this role, but I can’t say he was a magnetic, break-out star.
“Elsewhere” is a sweet drama with a believable romance between two interesting adults. That is unusual in its own way, and it felt like an independent film from the ’90s, so that struck a chord for me. This is a sad story but not so devastating that it’s unpleasant to experience. Some films are so effective in their portrayal of grief that it becomes a journey you don’t really want to take. “Elsewhere” was just a wistful misadventure, a quiet but authentic story of personal growth.
“Elsewhere” is available to stream on Amazon Prime.
New This Week
“Our Friend”: The movie that was filmed on both sides of the bay last year is here! The inspiring and extraordinary true story of the local Teague family — journalist Matt (Casey Affleck), his vibrant wife, Nicole (Dakota Johnson), and their two young daughters — and how their lives are upended by Nicole’s heartbreaking diagnosis of terminal cancer. As Matt’s responsibilities as caretaker and parent become increasingly overwhelming, the couple’s best friend, Dane (Jason Segel), offers to come and help out. As Dane puts his life on hold to stay with his friends, the impact of this life-altering decision proves greater and more profound than anyone could have imagined. Nexus Cinema Dining.
“Flinch”: A young hitman who lives with his mother falls in love with the witness of a murder he commits. CMX Pinnacle 14 (former Cobb Theatres).
“The Dig”: Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes and Lily James star in this drama about a British widow, a self-taught archaeologist and their astonishing find on the eve of World War II. Crescent Theater.
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