Movie Review: ‘Elsewhere’

Greetings again from the darkness. One of the best things about movies is that there are no rules. Most any story can be told by most any filmmaker in any way they see fit. Some people watch movies for escapism and purely for entertainment purposes, while others are looking for mental and creative stimulation. A separate category of movies would be what I call Lifetime Channel movies, which have been described by a friend as ‘melting brain cells faster than open bar night in Baton Rouge.’

Now to clarify, not all ‘Lifetime Channel movies’ are shown on that particular network. No, it’s more of a sub-genre that, when mentioned, is immediately recognizable to most movie lovers. As an example, take this synopsis: A handsome architect builds a seaside cottage for his beloved wife. She dies from a terminal disease, and the man goes into an emotional funk treating the house as a memorial to his wife. After two years, his wealthy in-laws evict him from the house. A spirited divorcee buys the house, and after their initial conflicts, the widower and divorcee hit it off. She brings the house and the widower back to life. All of that is in the trailer, so I haven’t spoiled anything.

Heck, I wish there was something to spoil here, but writer-director-editor Hernan Jimenez knows what his audience wants and never leaves the path. He bookends the movie with the husband holding the urn containing the ashes of his deceased wife. We note he is surrounded by the wonder of nature: a forest of majestic trees, a gorgeous waterfall, and the picturesque coastline (filmed in Canada). Bruno is played by Aden Young, and it’s clear he has an unhealthy attachment to the house he designed and built on land owned by his wife’s parents. They give him two weeks to vacate, and Bruno moves in with his quite supportive parents (Beau Bridges, Jackie Weaver), while his loyal friend played by Ken Jeong is often close by.

Things pick up when Marie (Parker Posey) buys the cottage and hires Bruno as a contractor to bring her visions for the house to life. Of course, Bruno doesn’t tell her about his connection to the house, and somehow in this dinky little town where everybody knows everybody, no one else tells her either. As the two develop a relationship, Bruno never loses sight of his goal to get the house back. Marie is a charming and spirited woman who is writing a book on the link between moss and our lives. It’s really Marie’s outlook on life that makes the movie watchable at all, and in fact, focusing on her character likely would have provided more interesting options for the filmmaker. An even better scenario finds us crossing paths at that Baton Rouge open bar night.

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