Archives / 2005 Sundance Film Festival

The Chumscrubber

Director: Arie Posin

Screenwriters: Arie Posin, Zac Stanford

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival

Description

Portraits of suburbia as a metaphor for American life have been around for several decades; obvious seminal examples include Rebel Without a Cause, SubUrbia, and American Beauty. So filmmakers are in familiar territory when they dive beneath the idyllic veneer of a California neighborhood to reveal dysfunction and alienation. That is why the satiric freshness of The Chumscrubber is so satisfying. Beginning (rather than ending) with a teen suicide creates the point of departure for a slew of well-crafted archetypes and caricatures of both parents and offspring, culminating in a portrait which is neither facile nor commonplace.

When Dean (Jamie Bell) discovers the hanging body of his friend, he doesn't even bother to tell any of the patio party of adults, figuring they just wouldn't care. Thus begins a series of events that include drug dealing and kidnapping, a neighborhood memorial and a backyard wedding, interior design and real-estate deals, and about as much familial conflict and despair as can be played out in this rapid-fire parody of suburban existence. The interlacing of themes and stories ranges from suburban malaise and New Age psychological remedies to sexy moms, threatening pseudogangs, and nihilistic videos, all depicted with absurd accuracy in this scintillating debut by writer/director Arie Posin and his terrific cast, including Ralph Fiennes, Carrie-Anne Moss, Rita Wilson, Glenn Close, and Camilla Belle.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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