Perhaps the only really ‘true’ moment in a PC-fest of a film like this is when Owen feels some guilt and shame and claims that his ‘body betrayed him.’ Since he loved the girl, and was drawn to her (as seen in digitally desaturated flashback sequences, which could have been more subtly handled, even if well filmed in fluorescent violets and reds) it is perfectly plausible that if forced on her, he could not help but be aroused. In that sense, both he and Sherry are victims of a sexual crime; one that Sherry has blocked out but which Owen is obsessed with. Yet, Anders then undercuts that notion by having Owen sob that he did not even realize it was Sherry when doing it. Huh? This is justified by portraying older brother Dan and pals as serial rapists that Owen allowed to go unhindered for years.
In the end, Owen skulks back to Los Angeles, after visiting Dan in prison for a second time, and telling him that he is writing not only of Sherry and her song, but pinning the rape on Dan, as well as getting other rape victims to speak out. Dan spits at his brother, as he leaves, and it runs down the plastic screen separating them. Yet, even this bravura moment - and Stoltz’s great performance, which brilliantly distills his character’s obliviousness to his own evil (which is far scarier than the Hannibal Lecter-like portrayals of evil most films indulge in) - is ruined by having Owen state that the reason ‘this one’, meaning Sherry, was different than all the other rape victims, was because he — are you ready? — ‘loved her.’ Well, we know that, and do not need it stated since it is hammered into us the whole film. Then, Sherry returns to the house where the rape happened, and recovers her self-esteem, and drives off with Chuck.
The screenplay was written by Anders, who also directed Gas Food Lodging and Mi Vida Loca, and Kurt Voss. It is so up and down that one has to realize that neither writer has a clue as to what constitutes a cliché. Then there is the characterization. On a psychological level, the film posits that almost all people are victims of their pasts — arrested adolescents whose lives and fates are predetermined early on, yet who seek redemption through art. Okay, that’s fine, even if wrongheaded in reality. But, for the fictive world of the film, the film violates its own rules with the trite happy ending.