Astonished (1989)

Genres - Comedy, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Comedy Thriller  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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This eccentric low-budget feature sets a story based on Feodor Dostoevski's classic Russian novel Crime and Punishment among the trendily decadent fringe element of New York's Lower East Side. Sonia Invanova (Liliana Komorowski is a kooky European transplant struggling through a frigid New York winter in her cold water flat. She doesn't have the money to pay her rent, and risks eviction when she turns down a proposition from her unsavory landlord, a part-time pimp. Sonia sees the landlord beating up one of his girls in a bar, and decides to take justice into her own hands. She kills him, and then enters into a cat-and-mouse game with a police detective (Ken Ryan) who, as in the novel, knows she did it and wants to goad her into confessing. But Sonia is not wracked with a guilty conscience like Raskalnikov. She has an affair with a Brazilian singer and ends up on the beaches in Rio, from which she narrates this story in flashback. Crime and no-punishment? Directors Jeff Kahn and Travis Preston make good use of the Lower East milieu, and set several scenes in blues clubs, making for a lively soundtrack. With its absurd deadpan humor, and spaced-out characters, Astonished is clearly intended for the midnight-movie cult audience that responded to films like Repo Man and Jim Jarmusch's Stranger than Paradise.



accusation, fantasy, murder, poverty, reality