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Anywhere but Here

Director:Wayne Wang
Writer:Alvin Sargent
Fox 2000; PG-13; 113 minutes
Cast:Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman

Depending on what galaxy you're from, Natalie Portman is either the princess saving the world from Phantom Menace or a Harvard freshman who happens to be a talented actress. Yes, she's ditched the funky headgear and now occupies the emotional center of Wayne Wang's latest movie.

Portman plays Ann, no-nonsense daughter to selfishly immature and spunkily ambitious Adele August (Susan Sarandon). Adele's relocating them to Hollywood in a frantic attempt to make something of herself.

Anywhere but Here breaks no new ground, but it shows how satisfying a well-acted character drama can be. Portman holds her own with Sarandon, as both give impressive performances. Mid-life attempts at revival are nicely juxtaposed by the young woman's coming of age. Wang (The Joy Luck Club) directs with a soft, steady touch.

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