Stateside

on May 21, 2004 by Tim Cogshell
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The lives of young lovers cross by happenstance--or fate if you're the romantic type--leading them through a tumultuous few years during which they come to know what it will take to survive in a world in which they do not seem to fit except for when they are together. Dori (Rachael Leigh Cook, "Josie and the Pussycats") is a young actress and pop singer who experiences the onset of schizophrenia. She takes up residence in a psychiatric group home where she meets a friend of her roommate. Mark ("The Deep End's" Jonathan Tucker) is an affluent private school boy about to leave for the Marine Corps in order to avoid a jail sentence for a terrible car accident that he's responsible for. There is an immediate connection, but it's short-lived since Mark must leave for basic training. He finds himself under the yoke of a tough drill instructor (Val Kilmer in a small but effective role) hell-bent on driving the "rich kid" out of his platoon. He survives his initiation, in part as penance for his transgression, but also because he wants to see Dori again, which will require leave rather than a jail sentence.

Stars Tucker and Cook are supposed to be disaffected and lonely, but they seem more lethargic than anything. And Cook's take on schizophrenia has more in common with a beat poet on a bad acid trip than someone with an actual mental illness. Mostly, "Stateside" suffers from a lack of narrative cohesion. Writer/director Reverge Anselmo's script is part family drama, part boot camp thriller, and part youthful romantic drama, weighted by the strain of psychological problems that love alone will not cure. They're all good movies, but not at the same time. "Stateside" has its effective moments, but it never comes together as a single complete film. Starring Rachael Leigh Cook, Jonathan Tucker, Agnes Bruckner and Val Kilmer. Directed and written by Reverge Anselmo. Produced by Robert Greenhut. An IDP release. Drama. Rated R for language, some sexuality/nudity and underage drinking. Running time: 96 min

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