Crime and Punishment in Suburbia
Ellen Barkin, Monica Keena, Vincent Katheiser, Jeffrey Wright, James DeBello
Rob Schmidt, Pamela Koffler, Larry Gross, Christine Vachon, Bobby Bukowski, Gabriel Wrye, Ruth Ammon
In an age as smugly self-satisfied as the present one, the specter of social upheaval and/or moral turmoil may seem as foreign as it would be in, well, nineteenth-century Czarist Russia. That's what makes the parallels between these two universes so deliciously appropriate and relevant in this teen drama inspired buy the novel with a similar name by F.M. Dostoyevsky. The film is loosely inspired by the novel to be sure, and as in other teen films supposedly based on the classics, the authors (director and writer alike) take a great deal of liberty, but both film and novel are moral fables on the punishment of the innocent.
One big difference is that Crime and Punishment in Suburbia is decidedly more comic and fun. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere California, Rosanne Skolnik, a beautiful, popular cheerleader, hides a dark family secret. And when this dysfunctionality finally erupts into full-blown trauma, the perfect girl with the presumably perfect life must act to save herself. Meanwhile, Vince, a young man marginalized on the fringes of high-school society, is obsessed with this beautiful vision. This fixation gets him into trouble at first but later leads to a strangely supportive relationship.
Set against the backdrop of suburbia, teenage wasteland, Crime and Punishment in Suburbia is a story about love, need and redemption. With a splendid script by Larry Gross, terrific performances, and skilled direction by Rob Schmidt, this is a charmingly ironic and ultimately romantic romp through the serious inequalities of life, justice, and relationships.