Friday, January 12, 2007

Movie Review: Crime+Punishment in Suburbia 3 Stars

Crime+Punishment in Suburbia
7 Stars

For the finer points of the plot, pick up a copy of the Crime and Punishment Cliff Notes, but the essence of famous story remains, made palatable for fans of Dawson’s Creek in this well-acted teen angst opera.

Roseanne (Monica Keena of Dawson’s Creek) ranks among the upper echelons of popularity at her high school where she teaches Jimmy (James DeBello), the horny captain of the football team, the joys of finger-banging and other such teenage delights.

From afar, she is watched/spied on by freaky outcast and amateur photographer Vincent (Vincent Kartheiser). As much as he creeps her out, Roseanne is strangely fascinated by the enigmatic loner. Her boyfriend doesn’t share her affection for Vincent and threatens to kick his lilly ass if he doesn’t stop talking to her.

Roseanne’s life isn’t what it seems. Her stepfather is a pathetic drunk (Michael Ironside) who belittles and bosses Roseanne’s mother (Ellen Barkin), who, in turn, has an affair with bartender Chris (Jeffrey Wright), rending the delicate fabric of the family to shreds. When, in the middle of the separation, her drunken stepfather does the unthinkable to Roseanne, she seeks revenge, manipulating her boyfriend to assist her. Unfortunately, the plan goes horribly awry and her mother becomes the prime suspect.

Roseanne becomes an outcast at school and, consumed by guilt, severs her ties with Jimmy. Her only solace is her budding relationship with Vincent, who unknown to Roseanne, is fully aware of her dirty little secret.

Although it’s sometimes terribly predictable, the material is handled with such conviction that the trite circumstances and characterizations are forgivable. I won’t go so far as to suggest that it was genius that drove writer Larry Gross (48 Hours) and director Rob Schmidt (Saturn) to take Dostoyevsky’s twisted tale of obsession, guilt and redemption and turn it into a teen melodrama, but whatever demons visited them, left behind a gift. (SEE ALSO: Cruel Intentions)

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