Nicole Oakley, the troubled daughter of a wealthy congressman, attends public school in the upscale community of Pacific Palisades. As an act of defiance, she makes a play for the attentions of Carlos Nunez, a determined, straight-A student who endures a two-hour bus ride each morning from east LA to attend the more prestigious school in Nicole's exclusive suburb. While her friends and family prophesy doom for their relationship, her rebellious flirtation soon develops into true romance. However, Nicole's self- destructive tendencies threaten Carlos' ambitions, leading to an emotional and climactic confrontation that attests to the power and intensity of first love, and reveals how, in coming together, two young but damaged souls can heal one another.
This story of the romance between a troubled rich white girl (Kirsten Dunst) and her down-to-earth, responsible Mexican-American classmate (Jay Hernandez) is better --more realistic and insightful -- than most movies about American teenagers. Ms. Dunst's performance is smart and angry, and Mr. Hernandez makes his character into something more than the cardboard saint he might have been. But because the film starts off with so much promise, its eventual slide into melodramatic convention is especially disappointing. It's ultimately too cautious and responsible to live up either to the promise of its title or the talents of its cast. - A. O. Scott
2001-06-29 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Crazy/Beautiful