Crazy/beautiful

on June 29, 2001 by Bridget Byrne
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   This is dead-movie. Kirsten Dundst acts the title role to the hilt, with more bias to the crazy than the beautiful. Jay Hernandez, in quieter style, is totally beautiful, but his Carlos has to be crazy too to fall so devotedly for Dundst's Nicole.

   "Crazy/Beautiful," despite the heartfelt, determined performances of the two leads, still feels like a contrivance -- a calculated modern twist on the age old Romeo and Juliet theme of kids falling in love across societal boundaries. She's an unhappy rich kid, a child of all the clichés - including a fractured home and too much freedom - of waspy Los Angeles life on the upscale West Side. He's a decent poor kid, a child of the city's East Side Latino community, which the point of view of the filmmakers depict in much too simple other world terms. She's defeatist, completely self-indulgent and grungy - an aspect of role playing the usually cute Dundst has carried too far. Does the girl never wash her hair? He's optimistic and disciplined and gorgeous. But once she gets her hands on his beauty he starts acting crazy too.

   The two talented stars both have enough inner light to almost convince us that what's going on matters, but they are stymied by the fact that their performances are geared to a tragedy the movie fails to fulfill. The ending seems a big cheat - market tested trite.

   Furthermore while the lead characters could be said to be thickly drawn in oil - or at least acrylic - the worlds they inhabit are mere smudged chalk sketches. It's true people really in love don't think much about what other people see as their differences -- whether it be race, age, religion or whatever - but if a film is going to feature those around them who do, then it must give those scenes the same weight, not just use them as backdrop. Because this movie doesn't do that, there is a sense of pandering and condescension towards both kids' home ground, whether in the depiction of Nicole's hysteric stepmother or Carlos' buddies. Bruce Davison as Nicole's congressman dad is given an impossible assignment of being both political buffoon and father-knows-best. He looks flummoxed and very, very worried.    Starring Kirsten Dundst, Jay Hernandez and Bruce Davison. Directed by John Stockwell. Written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. Produced by Rachel Pfeffer, Mary Jane Ufland and Harry J. Ufland. A Buena Vista Release. Romantic drama. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involved teens, drug/alcohol, sexuality and language. Running time: 88 min.

Tags: Kirsten Dundst, Jay Hernandez, Bruce Davison, John Stockwell, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, Rachel Pfeffer, Mary Jane Ufland, Harry J. Ufland, Buena Vista, Romantic Drama
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