`Smooth Talk': deliberately enigmatic rite-of-passage film generates controversy

Of all the current films with a youthful theme ``Smooth Talk'' has probably generated the most controversy. The main character is a 15-year-old girl with a normal interest in boys her own age. The first portion of the story shows her interacting with her peers and muddling through life with her parents, who aren't as enlightened as she (or they) might wish.

The movie changes gear when a man shows up at her door -- his age isn't given, but he's much older than her set -- and tries to seduce her with the ``smooth talk'' of the title. The ending is ambiguous, hinting but not confirming that a sexual encounter has taken place.

Some have seen the film as a cautionary view of the temptations that any young woman might have to grapple with in our sexually revved-up society.

Others have seen the seducer as an outright psychopath and the movie as an irresponsible glorification of him.

Since the ending doesn't tell us what happened during a long gap in the story, it's also reasonable to see ``Smooth Talk'' as a deliberately enigmatic tale that takes its tone from the inscrutability of adolescence itself.

In any case, I haven't heard of anyone who sympathizes with the seducer at the expense of his quarry. And this in itself might point to a new maturity in the movie world. The film was directed by Joyce Chopra.

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