The In Crowd
review by Gregory Avery, 21 July 2000

It starts out so-oo-o promisingly.

Obscenely intimate close-ups of a girl's furtive eyes. A group of people, seated behind a long table, examine a series of reports and evaluations. The camera floats over the word "erotomane" -- which I haven't heard used since the Peter Weiss play "Marat/Sade? -- highlighted on one of the reports. All greyness, and somber. Is this a parole board meeting? An admittance exam? The group of people are doctors, deciding on whether to let Adrien (Lori Heuring) out on a work leave from the psychiatric institute, St. Anastazia's, where she's been staying.

Returning to her room, Adrien sees one of the other patients snatch a postcard with a picture of Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World" on it off of her bulletin board. "They'll see it on you!" the patient cackles, hopping back and forth. "And they'll send you back!" Adrien retrieves the postcard from her in a way which suggests she's no cookie to get into a rumble with. The postcard -- and why someone would send a postcard with "Christina's World" on it to someone being hospitalized in an institution is beyond me -- has some sort of personal value, although what that is, along with the rest of Adrien's prior history, is deliberately withheld from us.

For a work leave, you'd think they'd send Adrien to some place which would be nice, quiet, and safe, like the Lancôme counter in a major department store, somewhere where she'd have a good chance at succeeding. But, nooooooo. She ends up at Glenmont, a seaside country club where all the rich, spoiled, arrogant kids are hanging out during summer vacation. They wear expensive leisure clothes or, on the beach, practically nothing at all. It's as if Adrien had been sent to work on Ganymede. The banter she overhears is priceless: "You guys jonesin' for some golf?" "I think you were a lot more fun when you were doin' 'blow'!" "His parents bought him a brand new Hummer. It's for makin' it through rehab!" (Note how they keep dropping the "g" off the end of their words.) "Welcome to the Lifestyles of the Rich and Tasteless!" One kid misses a shot during a pool game, and breaks his pool cue in two. They also shut the service elevator down, and laugh like crazy. And they're apparently ambisexual: Guy: "I have never slept with my mother's boyfriend." Girl: "I have never slept with my parents' au-pair." One gets the impression that, in reality, they actually had.

Before Adrien throws up her hands and goes down to fill out an employment application at the local Crispy Creme, she is taken under the wing of Brittany (Susan Ward), who has long dark hair and eyes that are alternately deep dark or have a silver flare in the irises. Brittany invites Adrien to parties, even though Adrien is the hired help. Adrien also gets annoyed looks from Kell (Laurie Fortier), as if Adrien was in the process of stealing her girlfriend, as opposed to friend-friend, away from her. Then, Brittany introduces Adrien to Tom (Ethan Erickson), an outrageously buffed guy who is first seen rising from the surf like an Olympian god who has just dropped down to have a quick swim. Tom seduces Adrien, while Brittany sits, just out of sight, to watch.

Is Adrien going along with all these shenanigans and capital head-games just to be nice, or does she really believe she can become a part of this group? Or does she have some other, ulterior motive? The main asset of The In Crowd is that it manages to keep us guessing for almost an hour or so as to who the real antagonist is -- Adrien, with her mysterious, possibly dangerous, past, or Brittany, who turns out not only to be treacherous but has some Dreadful Secrets of her own. Unfortunately, the picture suddenly loses its momentum and becomes more and more muddled as it goes along, until the story finally collapses altogether, with scenes where people start flailing about and jabbing and bashing each other with shovels and hedge sheers. Even a quick, glib plot point that's supposed to be a sly reference to the Monica Lewinsky farrago doesn't even register in your head until long after you're out of the theater.

There's some good work from Nathan Bexton, previously seen in Doug Liman's film Go; Kim Murphy, who, as Adrien's co-worker, turns out to be the best friend one could possibly want in your corner; and Lori Heuring, who has a graceful curve to her face and suggests the right note of submerged menace and unpredictability in her character.

The director Mary Lambert started out doing some distinctive music video work, for songs such as Sheila E.'s "The Glamorous Life" and Madonna's "Material Girl", but after she was fired as director for Under the Cherry Moon, she made her feature film debut with the utterly screwloose Siesta, followed by the film version of Stephen King's Pet Cemetery, which, like this film, started out fine but then fell completely apart before the end. Expectations that The In Crowd could be this year's equivalent to Wild Things or Cruel Intentions are thoroughly dashed; and, while there is a terrific closing song by Tracy Bonham, the filmmakers don't even play the classic Sixties rock song with which this film shares the same title.

Directed by:
Mary Lambert

Lori Heuring
Susan Ward
Nathan Bexton
Laurie Fortier
Matthew Settle
Ethan Erickson
Kim Murphy
Daniel Hugh Kelly
Tess Harper

Written by:
Mark Gibson
Philip Halprin




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