Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Dear God Tart Sucks

By Johnny D, Collegian Staff

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Directed by Christina Wayne
Starring Dominique Swain, Brad Renfro
Coming soon to video from Trimark

If you want your movie to make it to the theaters, you better make it sure it has a rudder. I had the recent pleasure of viewing Tart, an aimless indie drama being sent direct to video in late April, about the young, rich and bored and Manhattan. It’s coming courtesy of Trimark, the home to such classics as The St. Francisville Experiment and the Leprechaun series. After an endless 94 minutes, the characters weren’t the only ones who were bored.

The package art is pure exploitation cheese, showing an up-skirt shot of a generic girl in a skimpy Catholic schoolgirl uniform. It seems designed to lure in more thuggish male viewers expecting a sex-driven trash classic. Instead, it’s a serious character-driven drama, one as listless and motivated as a tree sloth. Frankly, I don’t know what would’ve been worse – a degrading, dumb sex film I could have at least laughed at, or this self-important blob.

The story is like a defanged version of Cruel Intentions, or a Larry Clark film without the gratuitous overlay of over-the-top, shock-theater absurdism that marked Kids. Cat Storm (Dominique Swain) is an outcast with her punky friend Delilah (Bijou Phillips, who always seems to play the same role) at an all-girls prep school. Then one day, she’s not very believably welcomed into the in-crowd. She begins to date handsome, popular William (Brad Renfro, who apparently forgot his character was meant to be charming, popular and rich). Delilah begins to hate Cat’s new ways and grows bitter. Cat discovers that the rich kids all like to drink, snort coke and steal (gee, what a surprise). At first happy, Cat begins to feel emptier inside after being shunted aside by her “friends” after having sex with William (gee, another surprise). Cat gets no help from her perpetually angry divorced mother, or her father (who seems to have no discerning characteristics except for the fact that he’s keeping his Judaism a secret).

Writer/director Christina Wayne has so little clue about how to make a film that none of the relationships between seems remotely understandable. Characters float in and out with little connection to each; every scene the viewer needs to reestablish who everyone is in relation to one another. Hell, I couldn’t even keep the names straight until the end. It doesn’t help that the acting (and a lot of these young actors are actually talented) is one dimensional – the better to flesh out characters who barely have one dimension. The cinematography is ugly, full of flat, gray light that gives everything a dreary tone. The writing is depressingly forgettable. The pace drags on and on; nothing remotely interesting happens in the movie. This is two hours of my life I’m never getting back.

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