Crime and Punishment in Suburbia

Director: Rob Schmidt
Screenwriters: Larry Gross

Institute History

  • 2000 Sundance Film Festival


In an age as smugly self-satisfied as the present one, the specter of social upheaval and/or moral turmoil may seem as foreign as it would be in, well, nineteenth-century Czarist Russia. That’s what makes the parallels between these two universes so deliciously appropriate and relevant in this teen drama inspired by the novel with a similar name by
F.M. Dostoyevsky. The film is loosely inspired by the novel to be sure, and as in other teen films supposedly based on the classics, the authors (director and writer alike) take a great deal of liberty, but both film and novel are moral fables on the punishment of the innocent.

One big difference is that Crime and Punishment in Suburbia is decidedly more comic and fun. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere California, Rosanne Skolnik, a beautiful, popular cheerleader, hides a dark family secret. And when this dysfunctionality finally erupts into full-blown trauma, the perfect girl with the presumably perfect life must act to save herself. Meanwhile, Vince, a young man marginalized on the fringes of high-school society, is obsessed with this beautiful vision. This fixation gets him into trouble at first but later leads to a strangely supportive relationship.
Set against the backdrop of a suburban, teenage wasteland, Crime and Punishment in Suburbia is a story about love, need, and redemption. With a splendid script by Larry Gross, terrific performances, and skilled direction by Rob Schmidt, this is a charmingly ironic and ultimately romantic romp through the serious inequities of life, justice, and relationships.

Screening Details

As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]