Monday, 26 September 2016

Here on Earth (3 Stars)


This is the ninth film starring Leelee Sobieski, made in 2000 when she was 16. It's one of her weakest films for a variety of reasons, none of which have to do with her excellent acting, the only reason to watch the film. The love triangle is totally unrealistic. The changes of heart by the main characters in the course of the film are difficult to fathom. Josh Hartnett, usually an actor I appreciate, comes across as bland and empty. But worst of all, for me at least, is that the film involves cancer.

But let's get back to what the plot is about, so you can decide for yourself whether you want to watch it. Leelee Sobieski plays Samantha, a waitress in her mother's diner in a small town in Conneticut. She's been dating farm boy Jasper since she was in school. Neither of them has a future to speak of, it's that sort of place. People grow up, leave school, get married, have kids and die.

Nearby there's a different world, a parallel society. There's an exclusive boys' school, Rallston, just outside of town. That's where rich parents send their children to get the best education money can buy, putting them on the fast track to university and a career in politics, law, medicine, banking or anything else that makes a lot of money.

The kids from the school look down on the townspeople. The kids from the town despise the boys from the school. Two different worlds. So sparks fly when Kelley, the Rallston valedictorian, makes a play for Samantha. Even worse, after the diner is wrecked in a car race between Jasper and Kelley, the two boys are forced by the local no-nonsense judge to work together to rebuild the diner. Kelley moves into a spare room in the house of Samantha's parents. We just know what will happen next.

If that had been the whole plot, I might have enjoyed the film more. But we find out that Samantha has cancer. I'm no doctor, but the way the cancer is portrayed in the film sounds strange to me. Samantha used to run hurdles, but had to quit after injuring her knee in a race. Then she developed cancer in her knee. Can that really happen? Cancer as the result of a knee injury? But the cancer spreads from there. In a hospital scene Samantha's father asks, "How can the cancer spread from her knee to her liver?" I'm asking myself the same question.


Now I'll move onto a subject that's important to me. As I've mentioned in other reviews, Leelee Sobieski said in an interview in 2012 that 90% of acting involves sexual stuff that she doesn't want to do. Along with her new responsibilities as a mother, this was a reason why she quit acting. What's this sexual stuff that she's talking about? I'm not aware of sexual stuff happening in 90% of her films. From memory I'd say that it's less than 10%, and even that 10% is very tame. Since I'm re-watching all of her films I'll keep count as I go along. The first vaguely sexual stuff was in her eighth film, "Eyes Wide Shut", in which we see her for a few minutes running through a costume shop in her underwear. That's hardly worth mentioning. In "Here on Earth" she shares a few passionate kisses with Chris Klein as Kelley.


We also see the two of them waking up in bed together. Is that so dreadful? A pair of naked shoulders poking out from beneath bed sheets? Is this a reason for an actress of her phenomenal talent, probably the best actress who has ever lived, to give up?


As you can tell by browsing my film reviews, I'm no prude. I have nothing against sex scenes in films. However, if Leelee doesn't want to do sex scenes that's fine with me. It's her choice, if she thinks it's incompatible with her married life. However, there are plenty of non-sex roles to choose from. She could appear in films directed by Steven Spielberg. No sex at all, not even suggested sex. Or she could appear in horror films. They rarely contain sex.

Let me start keeping a tally of Leelee's "sexual stuff", so I don't have to look it up every time.

  • 9 films
  • 1 with passionate kisses
  • 1 with off-scene sex

I'll update the list as I continue.

It's worth referring to Roger Ebert's review of this film. It was him who first inspired me to start writing this blog. I make no attempt to imitate his style, but whatever he wrote impressed me. Something I like about him is that unlike other reviewers he was never afraid to change his mind, to tell his readers that he'd reevaluated a film. In his review of "Here on Earth" we think alike. Overall he's disappointed with the film, but he praises Leelee Sobieski as an actress.

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