In this adaptation of the Mona Simpson novel, single mother Adele August is bad with money, and even worse when it comes to making decisions. Her straight-laced daughter, Ann, is a successful high school student with Ivy League aspirations. When Adele decides to pack up and move the two of them from the Midwest to Beverly Hills, Calif., to pursue her dreams of Hollywood success, Ann grows frustrated with her mother's irresponsible and impulsive ways.
In a knowing film adaptation of Mona Simpson's widely praised, if not often wildly eventful, first novel, Susan Sarandon is show-stopping as the 14-year-old heroine's mother and main nemesis. And natalie Portman, who proves her mettle in a fully formed dramatic role, does a terrific job of holding her own in the film's battle of wills. Even when the material meanders, Wayne Wang supplies insightful, affectionate direction, just as he did for "The Joy Luck Club." A women's picture made with feeling and acted with great flair. — Janet Maslin
1999-11-12 | Janet Maslin | Read the New York Times Review of Anywhere But Here