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Stateside Reviews

Writer-director Reverge Anselmo's bizarre love story, inspired by real-life events and filmed in part at his family's lavish Greenwich, Conn., home, is freighted with far more serious issues than most movies of its kind but neglects or glosses over most of them. Hollywood, 1981: Budding actress-singer Dori Lawrence (Rachael Leigh Cook) is just starting to gain some recognition when she suffers a mental breakdown that sends her running back East to her family. Meanwhile, in Connecticut, 17-year-old Mark Deloach (Jonathan Tucker), the privileged but lonely son of a wealthy, asthmatic former Marine (Joe Mantegna), is finishing up his senior year in high school. Out carousing one night, Mark and a friend cook up a prank that ends in a serious car accident. A priest (Ed Begley Jr.) is badly injured and Mark's classmate Sue (Agnes Bruckner) winds up in a psychiatric ward after the post-crash fallout reveals to Sue's mother (Carrie Fisher) that her daughter has been seriously promiscuous. Mark is shipped off to the Marines and tries to apologize to Sue before leaving for boot camp. Sue refuses to see him, but Mark briefly meets her enchanting roommate, Dori. Mark's drill sergeant, DSI Skeer (Val Kilmer), makes it his personal mission to whip this rich boy into shape, especially after he learns that Mark opted for a hitch with the Marines in lieu of jail time. Home on leave, Mark pays a visit to Sue and Dori, who've graduated to a halfway house. Mark and Dori begin a relationship, but Mark doesn't understand the severity of her illness; Dori is schizophrenic and the combination of Mark's adoration and his long absences may do her more harm than good. Tucker tries valiantly to infuse some personality into his lifeless character with a little bit of personality and the supporting cast members, especially Bruckner, do what they can with their thinly written roles. Unfortunately, Cook is underwhelming as Dori and the 1980s setting seems arbitrary. Worse, Anselmo clutters Dori and Mark's love story with a host of painful complications — Mark's widowed father's emphysema places a painful burden on his only daughter, Gina (Zena Grey); Dori's mental collapse is precipitated by gang rape; and Sue's mother is so rigid that she seems almost unbalanced — that get seriously short shrift, while making room for fairly pointless scenes like the one in which a drill sergeant shows his softer side.