Adapted by Elizabeth White from Joyce Carol Oates’s novel and directed with a great deal of visual flair and imagination by first-timer Annette Haywood-Carter, this is a story of four teenage girls drawn together by their common alienation and oppression when they encounter a mysterious female drifter. Fairly slow as narrative, but Haywood-Carter’s handling of the female bonding and her highly atmospheric mise en scene make this something rather special. Males, incidentally, are treated just as marginally and as stereotypically in this story as females in most male gang moviesthe subjectivity of the five lead girls tends to rule everythingbut the relatively unknown actresses all do a fine job. With Hedy Burress, Angelina Jolie, Jenny Lewis, Jenny Shimizu, and Sarah Rosenberg. (JR)

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