Directed by John Stockwell, starring Kirsten Dunst, Jay Hernandez and Bruce Davison.
First off – terrible title. Thankfully, this lowers your expectations for this teen romance, which then turns into quite an enjoyable way of passing a few hours. The ever-excellent Kirsten Dunst stars as the troubled daughter of a wealthy congressman who drinks, smokes pot and has casual sex. Oh my God! Put the beer-pitcher down, girlie, you're goin' to Betty Ford! If Ireland were judged by the deeply conservative American view on teenage hedonism, all our wee colleens would have been locked up years ago.
So one day, our pretty wild-child Nicole (Dunst) meets the Latino hunk Carlos (Jay Hernandez) and the die is cast. Carlos turns out to be at the same school, but has to travel across town from the Latin ghetto to get there. The attraction is mutual, but Carlos is everything that Nicole is not – well-balanced, responsible, hard-working and her influence on him threatens to derail him from a promising future. Various obstacles are thrown in the path of our young lovers, but you know how these films go and you're never too worried.
Apart from being a very predictable plot of love from the opposite sides of the tracks, the intimacies of their relationship are charted very well, with excellent acting from both leads. Hernandez has the more difficult role, as his character could so easily come across as too nice to be interesting. The fact that he invests Carlos with enough charisma to believe that Nicole would fall for him speaks of a solid career to come. Dunst is easing herself very smoothly into more complex adult roles and is utterly convincing as the girl who finds the stability she has sought in her father with Carlos.
The support is great with Taryn Manning as Nicole's equally fun-loving best friend and Bruce Davison as her father. His congressman is played with great ambiguity, so one can't decide whether he's going to be the evil parent, or a nice guy despairing of his daughter's behaviour, right to the very end.
The choice of music is rather annoying and a highly indulgent sequence plays David Gray's 'This Year's Love' in its entirety, but this is but a minor quibble in this straight-forward, engaging paean to first love.