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Suburban Girl (February 28/08)

Overlooking Alec Baldwin's expectedly compelling performance, Suburban Girl ultimately possesses too few positive attributes to even warrant a mild recommendation - with filmmaker Marc Klein's excessive reliance on hoary elements signaling the movie's downfall early on.

Based on a pair of short stories by Melissa Bank, Suburban Girl casts Sarah Michelle Gellar as Brett Eisenberg - an associate editor at a small yet prestigious publishing house who finds herself drawn to an influential older man (Baldwin's Archie Knox). Despite the objections of various folks in their respective lives, the two embark on a full-fledged romantic relationship - though, as expected, it's an affair that's inevitably fraught with complications.

It's worth noting that the marginally risque subject matter isn't even hinted at on the film's DVD packaging, with Brett and Archie's dalliance instead portrayed as a friendly bond between a mentor and his up-and-coming protege. And as unseemly as their relationship may be, it's generally easy enough to believe that Brett would fall for Archie - if only because Baldwin is his typically charismatic self (ie who wouldn't fall for Alec Baldwin?)

Problems emerge as Klein's hackneyed direction becomes increasingly difficult to overlook, with the filmmaker's emphasis on remarkably melodramatic plot developments certainly his most egregious transgression. There are consequently few surprises to be had within Suburban Girl's mercifully short running time, and it goes without saying that the effectiveness of the performances can only carry the proceedings so far.

Without any real familiarity with Bank's stories, it's impossible to say whether the film's total failure lies only with Klein - although, as a result of his uniformly questionable choices, one can't help but suspect that the director does deserve the lion's share of the blame.

out of

About the DVD: Image Entertainment presents Suburban Girl with an anamorphically-enhanced transfer, though bonus features are limited to a director's commentary and a trailer.