Crazy / Beautiful

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner26/09/2001

Four out of five stars
Running time: 95 mins

A refreshingly realistic teen romance that’s a far cry from the likes of Get Over It, featuring terrific performances from teen goddess Kirsten Dunst and upcoming star Jay Hernandez.

Kirsten Dunst is already well on her way to conquering the market in likeable teen leading roles, thanks to her perky performances in Bring It On, Get Over It and Drop Dead Gorgeous.

In Crazy / Beautiful, however, she gives her first truly adult performance (leaving aside her scarily grown-up child-vampire in Interview With A Vampire) and establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt that she’ll be going on to do great things, given the right scripts.

Crazy / Beautiful is a teen romance that goes out of its way to avoid the usual rich / poor, inter-racial romance clichés and turns a few of them onto their heads into the bargain.

Dunst plays Nicole, a rich white girl who is a bit of a wild child, preferring to skip class and get high or drunk with her best friend Maddy (a great performance by Taryn Manning, who, unfortunately, disappears halfway through the film).

She meets and falls for Carlos (Jay Hernandez, the ‘beautiful’ to Dunst’s ‘crazy’) – an impoverished but studiously committed latino student who has to get up at 5.30am and ride the school bus for two hours just to get to Nicole’s school.

As Carlos gets closer to Nicole, he finds himself being warned away from her, both by his family (naturally concerned that he’ll neglect his studies) and Nicole’s own liberal senator father (a superb performance by Bruce Davison), who agrees to sponsor Carlos’ entry to aviation school on the condition that he stays away from Nicole…

What lifts Crazy / Beautiful above the usual standard of teen romances is its combination of a realistically depicted L.A lifestyle and the strength of the performances.

Particularly impressive is the attention given to Carlos’ family – his mother speaks to him in Spanish, which is not translated for the audience, though you can work out what she’s saying from his reactions.

Both performances are excellent, with Hernandez proving himself a star in the making. Here’s hoping he gets offered bigger roles in future.

Dunst is wonderful, too, making you care about Nicole even before you discover the reasons behind her behaviour. (Her legions of fans won’t be disappointed either – she eschews her usual perky blonde look for a grungy unwashed effect, but wears plenty of ultra-skimpy outfits to make up for it, some of which will no doubt be appearing on a website near you very soon).

To sum up, then, Crazy / Beautiful is well-worth seeing, particularly if you enjoyed the similarly themed Save The Last Dance.

It has great performances, characters you care about, a decent soundtrack and a storyline that doesn’t insult your intelligence. What more could you ask for? Recommended.

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Content updated: 17/10/2019 09:45

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