|Reviews & Columns
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
Edge City is one in a long line of teen angst movies where trouble builds to a crescendo and a young life is lost. Still, it manages to overcome some pretty big odds and connect with the viewer thanks to stealthy character development and a truly senseless (and real) crime.
Set mostly in a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia, Edge City mixes an awareness of class, race and gender conflicts with the usual concerns of high school life. Early on members of the large cast congregate at a school dance, something that causes a whole range of emotions in the kids: Frustration, excitement, sexual anticipation, jealousy, etc. These kids have a lot on their minds and many telling details communicate their personalities without jumping into heavy exposition. One good example is a wordless shot of Cherie (Heather Gottlieb) vomiting her dinner into the toilet. Bulimia isn't a plot point and this is barely ever referenced again. Still, it helps rough out her desperate character without struggling to overexplain her. Gottlieb, like many of the young cast members, initially seems like a bad amateur actor. Her early scenes feel self-conscious and stilted. But like many (although not all) of the members of this large cast she relaxes into her role as the characters and situations become more fleshed out.
The closest thing to a plot emerges when a group of boorish teenage boys stupidly grope Cherie and a friend in the parking lot of a burger joint and then run away. The girls mention this to some friends who then pass the information along like a game of telephone until everyone is talking about how the girls were raped. For their part the girls never attempt to correct any inaccurate descriptions of the situation or the boys who caused it. By the time the end rolls around it's clear how misinformed, angry youth can direct their rage, totally unrelated, at innocent victims.
Like the performers, the filmmakers also seem to trust their instincts more as the film progresses. Early scenes are cobbled together with countless jump-cuts, a technique that concentrates too much on film school tough-guy posturing and not enough on setting a tone. Eventually, however, the film finds a way to develop a sharp, engaging style through unpredictable pacing and intercutting of numerous scenes. After the film gets rolling there is barely a false moment until the epilogue, which is annoyingly drippy and focuses the film's attention on one character (whose actor gives one of the film's weaker performances.) The film's real ending is the scene immediately before this mistake which cuts together all the characters' varying reactions in a furious cacophony of shots. With such a large cast and such an angry topic this exhausting sequence sums it all up, the chaos and violence of teenage angst.
The anamorphic video is fine, if a bit soft. The movie was shot on film and the elements are in decent shape. The low budget of the film shows in some simple lighting set-ups that create harsh shadows and hot-spots.
The film is available in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0. Both soundtracks are pretty raw as far as the dialog goes. Voices are somewhat muddy (thanks, no doubt, to the film's modest budget) while the throbbing score (which includes a good deal of hip-hop and hard rock) sounds a bit harsh.
A pretty lengthy behind the scenes video is included which offers interviews with key crew and cast members. It's a nice look at low-budget filmmaking and the thoughtful folks behind this particular film.
Surprisingly intelligent, Edge City is only marred by a weak ending that hedges its bets by trying to make explicit the pain and suffering that is so clear in the behavior and atmosphere in the rest of the film. Definitely worth a look for an adventurous indie film fan.