Crazy/Beautiful (2001)
Main cast: Kirsten Dunst (Nicole Oakley) and Jay Hernandez (Carlos Nuñez)
Director: John Stockwell


Crazy/Beautiful, promises lead actress Kirsten Dunst, will be her last movie where she has a "teen" role. If so, I am somewhat sad. If her performance in this otherwise stock teen romance is anything to go by, she could have raised the yardstick for this genre. In fact, she and Jay Hernandez give beautiful, moving performances that bring out the emotional aspects of this story, hence making Crazy/Beautiful an above average teen flick. As an interracial romance story between a rich WASP girl and a lower class Latino guy, this movie goes further: it doesn't shy from a rather graphic love scenes between Nicole and Carlos, the characters Ms Dunst and Mr Hernandez play respectively.

Nicole and Carlos first meet in a pier where Jay and his friends flirted with her. Imagine his surprise when high school starts and she turns out to be at the same private school as he is. He has busted his bum to get into this school so that he can graduate and go to a good college. He wants to be a politician. He does not want to mess with this disturbed, somewhat sociopathic young woman who is more used to seeing his people as house staff than friends. But you know how young hormones are. She hangs out at the football field where he is a star player, and whoo-hoo, next thing you know, she is borrowing from Daddy's stash of rubbers to play house with him.

Nicole is the familiar disturbed, angst-ridden rebellious girl who can't get over her mother's death, and Carlos is the familiar quiet hero of the gutters. But what makes this movie worth watching is the explosive chemistry between Ms Dunst and Mr Hernandez - if this movie starts out portraying puppy lust, there is no mistaking in the final scenes of this movie that both youngsters are scarred from this romance, and it is one that will last beyond high school because they both grow up in most bittersweet ways. Ms Dunst gives an amazing performance, restrained yet effective, that she overcomes the contrivances of her character. Mr Hernandez could have just stood there and look chiseled and beautiful - his role doesn't demand more - but when he finally takes Nicole on a one last joyride, his character has become much more than a surface Noble Latino type. Carlos becomes real.

This movie packs the right punch and despite its young cast, is more effective as an emotional drama than many movies I've seen with a more mature cast. Crazy/Beautiful isn't original, but it works beautifully.

Rating: 90


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