18 July 2001 | chrisbrown6453
Much like The Karate Kid caught a lot of people off-guard by its charm, likeability, and believability -- not the action aspect so much as the romance between Ralph Macchio and Elisabeth Shue -- crazy/beauti
The reason would be the two leads, Kirsten Dunst (Interview with the Vampire, Bring It On) and Jay Hernandez (only having done a handful of TV and small movie work). What looks like the set-up of a cliché-filled storyline on the outside -- high-schoolers Dunst as the troubled daughter of a U.S. Senator, and Hernandez as the intelligent inner-city kid meet up and fall in love -- takes on a fresh twist (and "fresh" is a good thing -- especially in film today). With the dialogue seeming mostly improvisational, the romance is impressively convincing. Dunst is already familiar to film audiences -- making great strides at a very young age with Vampire -- but this could arguably be her finest turn. You do feel something for her character, as screwed up as she can be. But even "screwed up" people need love, too, and you do want her to succeed. And good performances apparently rubbed off on Hernandez as well, giving sensational insight into a conflicted character torn between duty to family and education versus his love for Dunst. The story does take a turn for the... well... crazy near the end but recovers nicely -- and without being too preachy or schmaltzy. Don't expect greatness, but don't be shocked if you like it.