Crime and Punishment in Suburbia [2000]

This very loose update of Dostoyevsky will never gain the original's classic status, but on its own unseemly little terms it's an efficient genre flick. Trapped in a suburban Hell with an alcoholic stepfather (the always nasty Michael Ironside), suffering, molested high-schooler Rosanne (Monica Keena) begs her quarterback boyfriend (James DeBello) to help her bump him off. Things get complicated with the involvement of her weary mother (scrappy Ellen Barkin, still waiting for a decent role) and a sensitive, outsider classmate (Vincent Kartheiser). Larry Gross's script has Barkin's selfish character acting too much the idiot, though you won't hear a bad note from her or the rest of the appealing young cast (the invaluable Jeffrey Wright also has a nice bit as Barkin's lover). Even if director Rob Schmidt has too much of an MTV sensibility (showy cuts, booming soundtrack, etc.) and indulges himself with the gruesome murder, his glossy sensitivity to teen trauma redeems some of the pulp. The film can be seen in widescreen on DVD, as well as heard in French and Spanish. --Steve Wiecking

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