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Anywhere But Here (1999)

 -  Comedy | Drama  -  12 November 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 13,679 users   Metascore: 59/100
Reviews: 99 user | 75 critic | 33 from

A mother and daughter search for success in Beverly Hills.



(book), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hisham Badir
Hisham Badir (voice)
Samantha Goldstein ...
4 Year Old Ann
Scott Burkholder ...
Man with Mercedes
Assistant Hotel Manager (as Yvonna Kopacz)
Girl on T.V. (as Eva Amurri)
Girl on T.V.


Fed up with her small-town Bay City existence, Adele August leaves her family and second husband and heads for Beverley Hills with her daughter. The teenager resents the move and her mother's always flamboyant behaviour and in turns plans to get away to university on the east coast. Mum's plans are different - she wants a movie star for a daughter. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A story of a mother who knows best... and a daughter who knows better.


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sex-related material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

12 November 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cambio de vida  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£64,964 (UK) (3 December 1999)


$18,653,615 (USA) (18 February 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Story of the move is taken from same named novel written by Mona Simpson (Steve jobs's sister) See more »


In the scene where Adele wakes up Ann to go see the sun rise, they are looking West out on the Pacific Ocean, but the sun would be rising in the East, not the West. To view anything in that direction, they would be watching the sun set. See more »


Adele: [singing] Be optimistic, don't be so grumpy, when the road gets bumpy, just smile, smile, smile, be optimistic
See more »


References Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) See more »


Oh Christmas Tree
Arranged and Performed by Billy Martin
Courtesy of Marc Ferrari / MasterSource
See more »

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User Reviews

Brilliant performances by Sarandon and Portman
30 July 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon.)

The mother-daughter bond, especially with an only child, is one of the strongest human bonds there is. Some say it's stronger than husband and wife. It tends to be intense and it almost always develops into a situation where neither side has the clear upper hand because both are vulnerable.

And they fight. Tooth and nail. And they love each other intensely. For the mother it is scary because everything is in the daughter and for the daughter, especially when the mother is divorced or single, as is the case here. For the daughter it can be a nightmare because the mother is the adult and has the power and is a total embarrassment. This is especially true when the mother is delusional or dysfunctional as is Adele August (Susan Sarandon).

The story from Mona Simpson's novel is familiar in plot and theme although the details here are unique and especially well done. Adele's judgment is more than suspect and she's careless with other people's feelings, and she's shallow and dresses funny. And she isn't completely aware of, nor has she sufficient respect for the needs and wants of her daughter, Ann (Natalie Portman). She, the mother, wants to leave behind the small town, Midwestern existence and embrace Hollywood and all things glamorous. Ann would rather stay in Bay City, Wisconsin with her friends and family. Mom buys a Mercedes and forces Ann to go with her to make a new life in Beverly Hills.

I thought Wayne Wang's direction was excellent. He used visual clues to introduce the scenes: shots of an still apartment, shots of part of a person, shots of the beach or the highway, etc., and then a focus on--almost always--Sarandon or Portman. And then at sometime, the camera backs away and we see the larger scene: the desert sand and scrub, the ocean and the sunrise, the other diners at the restaurant, the mourners at the funeral, the crossway over the freeway, and so on. The scene in which Adele is hiding under the covers from heartbreak, and Ann pulls them off, is shot from above because such an angle so beautifully reveals Adele's limbs pulled in close to her body as though in catatonia or in a return to the safety of the womb. Sometimes the sounds precede the shot as when Adele is in Bay City trying desperately to get in touch with the dentist in California who doesn't want her, and we hear her desperation before we see it in her face.

I also liked the way the film was cut. As soon as the point of the scene was made, we moved on to another scene, which is again introduced visually with just the right kind of lighting, giving us a moment or two to imagine what transpired in-between. However the real strength of the film is in the brilliant work by Sarandon and Portman.

Sarandon is deliberately annoying, flighty, self-delusive, and deeply vulnerable while Portman is powerful, sensitive, and one step ahead of us. Indeed Natalie Portman is one of the most gifted young talents in all of cinema. She absolutely commands the camera, and, as it stays on her face, she reveals to us a full set of emotions and responses, layered like things very deep. If she wants to she can become one of the great stars of the screen. She has the talent. I understand however that she is pursuing a career as a doctor. Whatever she does, one has the sense that she will do it very well.

A couple of irreverent questions for director Wayne Wang:

How did Ann's audition go? Did her projection of her mother's personality win her the part?

And, what is it that the man does in bed only with a woman he feels special about? Inquiring minds want to know (rather than make stupid guesses).

Anywhere But Here can be compared with some other dysfunctional mom and wise-beyond-her-years daughter films, for example, Mermaids (1990) with Cher and Winona Ryder, Postcards from the Edge (1990) with Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep, Mommie Dearest (1981) with Fay Dunaway and Diana Scarwid, Terms of Endearment (1983) with Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger, and some others I have forgotten.

For the record I would rate these in this order:

Terms of Endearment, Postcards from the Edge, Anywhere But Here, Mermaids, Mommie Dearest

Here at IMDb they are rated in the same order but with Anywhere But Here at the bottom. Too bad, but that allows me to say that this is very much an underrated film.

See it for both Susan Sarandon, who is as good or even better than she ever was--and that is very good indeed--and for Natalie Portman, who is stunning, and as an actress, mature beyond her years.

11 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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