All The Real Girls

"Excellent"

All The Real Girls Review


David Gordon Green's All the Real Girls (the follow-up to his astonishing 2000 debut George Washington) exhibits the same gently lackadaisical rhythm and acute perception of human joy and misery that made his debut such a success, even as it charts new territory. A dreamy tale of the wondrous elation and sometimes terrible sorrow that accompanies love, the Sundance hit - about the budding relationship between an immature rabble-rouser and the sister of his best friend - occasionally threatens to devolve into laughable sentimentality. But Green's assured direction and two outstanding lead performances never allow this minor masterpiece to lose its course, and the results are a sumptuous romance that pulsates with the passionate ecstasy of the smitten heart.

Paul (Paul Schneider) is a local guy working for his uncle and living with his mother in the same house he's always called home, and his abundant sexual conquests have earned him a well-deserved reputation as a licentious heartbreaker. He spends his free time with a group of lifelong buddies, drinking and looking for his next female conquest. As one former girlfriend wisely observes, Paul's the type of sleazy good-for-nothing who'll never amount to more than what he is now: a drunken, childish buffoon with no ambition. His mother puts it more bluntly: Paul is "not educated, honest, or strong."

But beneath that callous exterior lies a surprisingly tender soul, and Paul's world changes with the reappearance of his friend Tip's sibling, a wide-eyed ingénue named Noel (the enchanting Zooey Deschanel) who's been cooped up in an all-girl boarding school since the age of 12. Despite the objections of Tip (Shea Whigham) - who's familiar with both his sister's innocence and his pal's history of thoughtless carousing - Paul and Noel are magnetically drawn to one another, and it's not long before their casual conversations evolve into heartfelt glances, stolen kisses, and innocent nights spent under the covers. The outside world gives way as the two - ensconced in a timeless small-town paradise of towering ferns, beaten down dirt roads, and quiet, still air - develop a blissful companionship, convinced that their feelings for each other are unique in the annals of history. Tim Orr's stunningly delicate, golden-hued cinematography seems to envelop the young lovers in a warm blanket of sunshine, protecting them as they float through life in a state of idyllic rapture.

As both a director and a writer, Green is uninterested in disingenuous clichés and poses, and his rejection of the genre's most hackneyed conventions comes in the form of unabashed sincerity. In his film's corny, love-struck dialogue - spoken with the gravity that comes from people wholly enraptured by their newfound emotions - Green captures the raw immediacy of Paul and Noel's exhilarating affair. The film stares directly into the face of melodramatic syrupiness, and doesn't blink; All the Real Girls transcends the corniness of its dialogue through the earnestness of Green's conviction. At one point, Noel gingerly tells Paul "I like it when you smile at me," and her words have the vulnerable honesty and the lyrical grace of a poem.

Their reverie, however, cannot last forever, and a disastrous decision leaves the young couple at a crossroads. "Just tell me what to do" becomes the plaintive cry that echoes through the still country air, but comprehension and consolation are not easily achieved. Green, having immersed us in the intense atmosphere of blossoming passion, doesn't shy away from the painful consequences that caring for someone frequently entails, and he makes it clear that Paul and Noel's despair doesn't exist in a vacuum. The film reveals a town littered with the walking wounded: Paul's uncle Leland (Benjamin Mouton), still reeling from the death of his wife, has vowed to never get that close to someone again; his single mother Elvira (an underutilized Patricia Clarkson), entertains hospitalized children dressed as a clown in order to alleviate her loneliness; and Tip learns a hard lesson about the ramifications of his reckless behavior.

Green is often compared to legendary recluse Terrence Malick, and his fascination with images of nature - a river glistening in the sunlight, a crippled dog hobbling along a dusty road - imbues the seemingly ordinary with a mythical import that recalls Malick's ethereal Depression-era saga Days of Heaven. Yet unlike his kindred directorial spirit, Green is keenly attuned to his actors' strengths and weaknesses and, in Schneider and Deschanel, he has found a pair of brave performers willing to embrace material hovering on the edge of preciousness. Schneider and Deschanel share an unaffected, easygoing chemistry that only grows more spellbinding as Paul and Noel's relationship begins to crumble under the weight of mistakes and regrets both past and present. Throughout, Green shelters their performances with steadfast grace and respect. In doing so, he has crafted a timeless portrait of two individuals' awkward, euphoric first encounter with love.

Bedheads.



All The Real Girls

Facts and Figures

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st August 2003

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Fresh: 78 Rotten: 32

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Paul, as Noel, as Bust-Ass (as Danny R. McBride), as Bo, as Mary-Margaret, as Tip, as Elvira

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.