Crime + Punishment in Surburbia

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

If you look at Rosanne Skolnick (Monica Keena), you would think she has the world at her feet and to an extent, she does. She has a lot of friends, she dates a football player named Jimmy (James DeBello), and in truth, she is the most beautiful girl in her school and perhaps even further than those limits. But her stunning good looks, perfect body, and popularity aren’t enough to erase what lurks inside her, which is why she wants to commit a murder. She lives with her mother, Maggie (Ellen Barkin) and her stepfather, Fred (Michael Ironside) in a nice area and though her life looks pristine, she hides her dark secret deep within herself. You see, she wants to murder her stepfather because he abuses her and unless she stops him, she feels her life can never proceed forward. So she persuades Jimmy to assist her in this task and just when she seems to be in the clear, she is faced with another inner turmoil. While she was able to commit the crime and leave in time to not be caught, her mother came home at just the wrong time and now, she has been locked up for the murder. Will Rosanne be able to harbor another dark secret, or will she face the music for her actions, in an effort to once again rid herself of the inner demons?

I know some will think this film runs a little close to American Beauty, but in the end, the two take much different paths to their conclusions. While American Beauty is made for mass consumption and avoids the darker issues, this film embraces them and that could be why it wasn’t as accepted in the end. But please don’t expect a darker American Beauty here, as the two films might have some common elements, but are in reality much different in most respects. I think Crime + Punishment In Suburbia is a very well made film and while it lacks the resources it deserves, it still emerges as a very solid film and one that will remain in my person collection. The cast isn’t loaded with name talent, but includes a solid roster that features Michael Ironside, Ellen Barkin, Vincent Kartheiser, James DeBello, and Monica Keena. I am very pleased with the performances here and thanks to some strong characters, the workers are able to really showcase their talents here. This movie deals with some dark subject matter in a point blank manner, so if you need it all sugar coated, then I recommend you look toward other releases. But I think this film deserves a strong recommendation and whether you purchase or rent this disc, your money is more than well spent.

As I mentioned above, this film’s cast isn’t filled with upper tier talent, but I am very pleased with the casting choices and performances. I’ve always liked the work of Michael Ironside and here, he puts his skills behind a character that turns out to be very complex. Ironside plays this role to perfection, as we can easily see the good traits and bad ones, which is essential to the film’s effectiveness. He sometimes get mired down in direct to video projects, but when he gets his hands on a solid role, Ironside can turn in impressive work, as evidenced here. You can also see Ironside in such films as Starship Troopers, The Perfect Storm, The Next Karate Kid, Total Recall, Scanners, and Top Gun. The rest of the cast here includes James DeBello (Detroit Rock City), Blake Shields (Boys and Girls), Ellen Barkin (Drop Dead Gorgeous, The Fan), Jeffrey Wright (Presumed Innocent, Ride With The Devil), Vincent Kartheiser (Another Day In Paradise, Little Big League), and the stunning Monica Keena (Snow White: A Tale Of Terror, The Devil’s Advocate).

Video: How does it look?

Crime + Punishment In Suburbia is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame version also included on the disc’s flip side. This film has an excellent visual style, which seems to be well replicated here and I have minimal issues to raise. I blame the slight grain on the film’s low budget nature, but in some of the darker scenes, it can be a little much. I think the grain is overlookable though and in the end, this transfer is a very good one in all respects. The colors seem bold and rich here, but never bleed and flesh tones look normal also, no complaints there. I also had no issues with the contrast (aside from the slight grain), which comes off as stark and very well defined. This is an excellent anamorphic transfer from MGM and now, let’s hope they continue to give their new releases (as well as catalog titles) this level of treatment.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is very good, but aside from the musical soundtrack, I don’t think much surround use is present. But the music sounds great in this mix, with the surrounds used to good ends to provide a full soundtrack, which adds a lot to the film. The surrounds see some limited use in terms of sound effects, but since the material doesn’t demand much more, I am pleased with the level of activity found here. The dialogue is sharp and crisp at all times here, no traces of volume errors or other flaws in the least. This disc also includes stereo surround tracks and subtitles in Spanish & French, as well as English captions.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes an audio commentary track with director Rob Schmidt and actor Michael Ironside, who provide a lot of information and insight about this production. Although frequent pauses and silent spaces are present here, I was pleased with the amount and quality of information found here, so fans of the film will want to spin this track in the end.

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