I loved this easy on the eye 'little' film, adapted from a story written by the great chronicler of American ennui – Anne Tyler. Bored, frumpy vicar's wife Charlotte (Susan Sarandon) thinks that, today, she's finally going to make a break from her dull life. She succeeds, by accident. Arriving at the bank to withdraw her money, she is grabbed by a useless young bank robber, Jake (Stephen Dorff), who makes his escape with her in tow. But she's a uniquely unusual hostage: the road trip he drags her on is the release into the unknown that she never had the courage to make herself. His fear of capture, and her curiosity, keep them together at first; but as their journey continues more complicated, emotional ties bind them.
But the things that were wrong with both their pasts are never far away, and this tension leads to an ending which I can see many reviewers found unsatisfactory. But it's the "right" ending, really. We only feel cheated because the chemistry between the bank robber and his 'hostage' is so great. You feel with them; you want them to work it out so badly; you wish them a magic carpet, or a wand, or a desert island.
Both actors do a great job. When Sarandon's frumpy Charlotte first sees her kidnapper and exclaims "oh! You're so young!", her eyes show she's thinking he's something else besides young. The moments where Charlotte's and Jake's relation first changes have a palpable tension. Stephen Dorff has had a bit of a raw deal in the leading man stakes. I don't think he's a particularly less talented or good-looking actor than many A-listers who have languidly hogged the limelight forever...*&!brad?:£!pitt&!$**
.I hope Dorff gets better luck in the next decade, or the next life. If you liked this film you may like the quirky "Skipped Parts" with Jennifer Jason Leigh. Sarandon was excellent in "White Palace" from the same period as "Earthly Possessions"; and I remember Dorff being pretty good as the 'fifth' Beatle in "Backbeat".
Film distributors should stop freaking out about film clips being posted on, ahem, certain websites. Instead of stifling the film industry they reinvigorate it. "Earthly Possessions" is just one of many films I first saw on one of these sites, without which I wouldn't have known they existed; and then rushed out to buy on DVD.