Crime and Punishment in Suburbia

on August 01, 2008 by Annlee Ellingson
Very loosely based on the similarly titled Dostoyevsky novel, "Crime and Punishment in Suburbia" attempts to put a gritty spin on the glut of teen updates of classic works that have been populating megaplexes lately. The opening credits with the scratchy font fading in and out of focus set a post-modern tone, but rest of the film fails to live up to this promise.

   Roseanne Skolnik (Monica Keena), like all blond high school cheerleaders, seems to have it all: a mother who loves her, a stepfather who provides for her, a boyfriend who will do anything for her. When her perfect world spins out of control--her stepfather takes out his rage on her when her mother hooks up with a sexy bartender and moves out--Roseanne turns to Vincent (Vincent Kartheiser), a quiet, quirky soul who until now has only admired her from afar.

   Though his role is supposed to be significant, Vincent lurks in the shadows, literally, for the first half of the film, emerging to fulfill an undeveloped Christ-like role in the last act. Throughout, he alludes to a different way of life--that of a believer--but the film isn't bold enough to discuss religion or spirituality at any length.

   Gorier than one would expect, "Crime and Punishment" is hardly shocking. Despite its pretenses, the film fails to break the mold, presenting stock characters in predictable situations without a gimmick to separate it from the pack. Starring Ellen Barkin, Monica Keena, Vincent Kartheiser, Jeffrey Wright and James DeBello. Directed by Rob Schmidt. Written by Larry Gross. Produced by Pamela Koffler, Larry Gross and Christine Vachon. An MGM release. Drama. Rated R for brutal violence, strong sexuality, language and substance abuse. Running time: 95 min.

Tags: Ellen Barkin, Monica Keena, Vincent Kartheiser, Jeffrey Wright, James DeBello, Rob Schmidt, Larry Gross, Pamela Koffler, Christine Vachon, MGM, Drama

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