An absorbing, highly charged, teenage romance by writer-director John Sayles. The emotional story of star-crossed young lovers stumbles over occasional holes in the plot, yet the material is consistently compelling.
Trenton High School, New Jersey circa 1967 is the setting. Upper-middle-class Jewish princess Jill Rosen (Rosanna Arquette) and brilliantined Italian ruffian Albert “Sheik” Capadilupo (Vincent Spano) comprise the mismatched young couple.
She lies in her bedroom daydreaming to Dusty Springfield’s You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me and he sweeps into the cafeteria to Bruce Springsteen’s It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City. Strangers in the Night unites them.
After graduation (her) and a bungled greaser robbery (him), she heads out to college to study theatre (and the counterculture) and he takes up lip-synching to Sinatra records at a Miami nightclub (where he is also washing dishes).
Their reunion is bittersweet, brutal and defiantly hopeful.
Above all, the film works as a dazzling showcase for some hip performances by talented newcomers. Arquette displays much realism as the bright Jewish physician’s daughter who is courted by the brash working-class youth, played by Spano.
Matthew Modine makes his film debut and there’s an early appearance by Robert Downey Jr.
Albert “Sheik” Capadilupo
William Joseph Raymond
Robert Downey Jr