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Lions Gate presents
Edge City (1998)

"They thought they were so cool."
- Cherie (Heather Gottlieb)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: June 25, 2003

Stars: Charlie Hofheimer, Heather Gottlieb, Ryan Patrick Carmody
Other Stars: Luis LaPorte Jr., Todd Berry, Isidra Vega, Bruce Kirkpatrick, Samuel Medina, Michelle Seabreeze, Jill Horner
Director: Eugene Martin

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:46m:51s
Release Date: May 27, 2003
UPC: 031398832027
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B-C+B B-

DVD Review

A small edgy drama like Edge City is one of those little joys that periodically cross my path as a DVD reviewer that I might not otherwise have noticed. Call it a job perk, I guess. Regardless, 1998s Edge City, from writer/director Eugene Martin, is not that much different thematically from some such darkly disaffected youth tales as Tim Hunter's River's Edge, Harmony Korine's Gummo or Larry Clark's Kids (co-written by Korine). In Martin's film we have yet another collection of hard-living, wise-beyond-their-years teens spinning around in their own little clueless world, unaware how the simple act of embellishment can turn a relatively harmless situation into a deadly serious one.

The film is set on the edge of a hardscrabble Philadelphia neighborhood and the more affluent bordering neighborhood of Springville, and is hinged on events that occur at the last school dance before summer vacation. When two promiscuous high school girls (Heather Gottlieb and Michelle Seabreeze) from the rich side of town are hassled by a trio of Philly kids, the gradual retelling of the incident slowly escalates until, like the game of Operator, the word on the street has morphed into that the girls were brutally raped. Tensions, which already existed between the have and have-nots, run even higher, and an out-of-control mob mentality begins to take hold.

The story is remarkably simple, almost glaringly nonexistent at times, but Martin has populated Edge City with a truly stellar ensemble cast of mostly unknowns actors who genuinely shine in the various roles, even when nothing is occurring that is necessarily driving the story forward. With the exception of a couple of peripheral characters, there really was not a moment when I felt I was hearing anything that resembled people reciting memorized lines. In fact, there are moments when the film seemed almost like a documentary (no doubt a result of Martin's ever-present handheld camera work), and the credit has to be shared not just by the script's incredibly lifelike dialogue, but also coupled with the very real performances by the cast.

I can forgive some of the predictable triteness of the mismatched relationship storyline between "poor" kid James (Charlie Hofheimer) and "rich" kid Allison (Jill Horner) because the film's dialogue is so harsh and raw that it never seems forced, even if what is being said is not what you'd expect (or want) to be hearing. The creepy ease in which Gottlieb, Seabreeze and Isidra Vega, all playing very believable fifteen-year-olds, discuss their prowess at oral sex with a completely detached level of casual disregard, as the three dine on hamburgers after school, is one of the many haunting spotlight moments that Martin has slipped into his film, and the presence of a scene like this is one of many that makes Edge City disturbingly memorable. Do kids really talk like this?

In Martin's world, these teens are like some half-cocked self-regulating government, with their own misguided set of etched-in-stone rules and codes. It is not always pretty in the world that they float through, but it seems sadly all too real.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: The aspect ratio isn't indicated anywhere on the packaging, but the anamorphic transfer appears to be approximately 1.78:1. Image detail is a little soft, with colors looking slightly muted; black levels are pretty bad, with a couple of night scenes being very hard to follow. There is quite a bit of fine grain, and small amounts of dirt and specks are present, as well.

Not the most picture perfect transfer I've ever seen, but in a way it almost adds to the film's intentional grittiness.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The newly remixed 5.1 Dolby Surround track is far more aggressive than you might expect for what is essentially a low-budget drama, with rear channels carrying everything from music to background sounds like television and car doors. The .LFE tracks does thump loudly a few times, though its presence seemed a little overdone and unnatural at times. Dialogue is clear and discernible.

The films original, and comparatively flat, English stereo track is also provided.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Fulltime Killer, Sex and Lucia, Scratch, The Believer
1 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Lions Gate has added a featurette, made in 2002, called Edge City: Behind the Scenes (17m:18s), in which director Eugene Martin and actors Charlie Hofheimer, Ryan Patrick Carmody, Todd Berry and Heather Gottlieb look back on the 1998 film. In between reminiscences, we get a glimpse at some behind-the-scenes production footage, as well as audition tapes for a few of the cast members. Highlights include Martin talking about how he workshopped the script with the young actors in order to fine-tune the dialogue, in an effort to make it appear as natural as possible. The content overall isn't wholly earthshaking, but it was moderately interesting to see the cast four years later.

Four trailers and an automated Photo Gallery (05m:30s) round out the supplementals. The film is cut into 18 chapters, and does not feature any subtitles.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Bulimia, alcoholism, drugs, sex and violence all figure prominently in Eugene Martin's downbeat teen drama, Edge City, but this is no simple, ham-fisted "feel bad" movie. Spot-on performances from Heather Gottlieb, Charlie Hofheimer, Samuel Medina, Luis Laporte Jr, and Ryan Carmody are just a few of the actors that make this such an alarmingly realistic film, all working with Martin's documentary-like dialogue.

If you're a parent, you'll want to lock up your daughters. Forever.



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