Immediately describing her new rural home as a "backwards hick town," former city girl Caroline (Dennings) doesn't waste a moment establishing the patronizing arrogance that defines both her and this Donnie Darko--wanna-be dramedy. Name-dropping Atom Egoyan to her sad weirdo boyfriend (Thompson) and brazenly seducing her high-school English teacher (Lucas), whom she oh-so-cleverly calls "Mr. Polanski," Caroline struts about with her nose held unjustifiably high. Not that her art-damaged snobbishness stops her from continually reasserting---through faux-literate narration that would make even Ferris Bueller wince---that she's a damaged, "insane" soul. Riiight.
Filmed in a soft-focus, slo-mo haze that aims to cast her as an alluring iconoclast rather than a smug clich, Michael Goldbach's pretentious take on identity development is woefully lacking in either subversive humor or genuine pathos; the overwrought end-of-the-world backdrop of a rampaging serial killer and a toxic industrial fire only poisons the concoction further. Worse than those woe-is-teendom symbolic dangers, however, is the raft of romanticized affectations (characters staring mournfully into the distance, cutesy chapter-title cards, quirky fantasy sequences about churning butter and chopping wood) that truly push these proceedings to the brink of apocalyptic awfulness. Sonic Youth should sue.
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