Projections - Movie Reviews

Crime + Punishment in Suburbia

Crime + Punishment in Suburbia

A darkly chaotic film that heightens the state of dysfunction is the teen reworking of the Dostoyevsky novel, Crime and Punishment.  Director Rob Schmidt proves to be actor friendly and doesn't use any specific California setting for an uneven story that is strengthened by its performers, especially Monica Keena and Vincent Kartheiser.

Lifting material broadly from the expansive, powerful tome, the grainy, unclear opening sets up the complexity of a society that isn't as it seems.  In some ways, Crime + Punishment in Suburbia calls to mind American Beauty in its collision of voyeurism and internal crisis.

Played with sexy allure by Keena (Dawson's Creek), Roseane Skolnik dresses to appeal to her high school football jock beau, Jimmy (James DeBello).  The popular Roseanne is watched from afar with intensity by the photographing Vincent, endowed with surprising depth by Karthiser.

Within the Skolnik's lovely home there is alcoholism and an unhappy marriage.  Michael Ironsides is an abusive stepfather.  His hard luck wife, Maggie, played with understated pathos by Ellen Barkin, is a great contrast as the depressed Maggie turns to sexy bartender Chris (Jeffrey Wright) for comfort.

Keena and Kartheiser understand each others flaws, as their emotional resonance parallels the deep hues photographed by Bobby Bukowski that add texture and crispness to Crime + Punishment in Suburbia.  Barkin's part becomes more important as her daughter reaches for the marginalized loner Vincent whose knowledge of a murder comes forth.

This somewhat grisly drama tries to deal with its standard milieu with integrity but never resonates with the unsettling allure of the more persuasive and less calculated doings of the Burnham, American Beauty family.

 
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