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After her only friend is expelled from their private school in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Cat Storm wants to get close to a boy she is attracted to and recreate herself with new friends. But her new friends are unreliable, her boyfriend is troubled, her parents are cold and indifferent, and she increasingly finds herself unloved by anyone. Written by
Bill Davis <email@example.com>
"Tart" is a good illustration of old the Yogi Berra saying: "If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up someplace else". Writer/Director Christina Waye (in her first feature) has managed to make a $3 Million movie that ends up someplace else. "Tart" is either a coming of age story devoid of characters that a rational person can connect with, a black comedy without any humor, or a sexploitation movie without anything that is particularly sexy.
Unlike the standard Swain film, "Tart" actually employed a competent and experienced production designer. Good enough to provide two extremely nice shots: the scene of Swain and Barton taking a bubble bath together and the scene of Swain in the park-featuring a nice montage of the "Alice in Wonderland" sculpture. The symbolism incorporated into these elements supports the possibility that Waye (despite the absence of a linear logic or unity of tone) actually has some visionary talent and aspirations for making a quality film.
It is even possible that Waye was trying for a fusion of the somewhat expressionistic "Metropolitan" and the camp classic "Cruel Intentions" which also deal with the Manhattan upper class. There are many camera shots framed by windows and doors yet few tight shots of faces and eyes. The former technique hinting at symbolism and the latter at intentional distancing from the characters and their motivations. "Tart" seemed on the verge of veering into camp territory at least twice and would have been well advised to keep going in that direction. First there was the scene where they try to dump the seemingly deceased Swain into the garbage chute. Then there is the whole bit about her father being Jewish (played to the same extreme as Joel Grey dancing with the Jewish guerrilla in "Cabaret").
In her other films Swain's acting technique is to overwhelm each scene in which she appears (insert scenery chewing here) but in "Tart" she actually shows an ability to restrain herself. This is the best performance of her career. It also provides some clues about her physical deterioration from willowy super cute in "Girl" to hulking lumpy-faced in "Pumpkin". This transformation was about half-complete by the time she made "Tart"; so go the ravages of time.
Mischa Barton ("Sixth Sense's" I feel better girl) and Lacey Chabet are excellent in supporting roles. The rest of the cast is simply horrible, although some of the blame for this should go to Waye's script and direction.
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