George Washington

"OK"

George Washington Review


Like a thought-provoking Spike Lee social commentary without all the hip pretense, "George Washington" is a startlingly authentic portrait of apathy, futility and discontented boredom ingrained upon a group of poverty-stricken kids in the rural South.

This vérité-style festival buzz pic centers around best friends Buddy (Curtis Cotton III), a contemplative 13-year-old nursing a broken heart, and George (Donald Holden), an ambitious boy with a bone ailment that has left his skull so soft he wears a old football helmet (with a broken facemask) everywhere he goes to protect him from unexpected blows that could kill him.

These two, and a handful of pals, spend their days escaping turbulent home lives (George's dog is deliberately killed by his unemployed drunk of an uncle) by wandering aimlessly around their dilapidated ex-industrial town of boarded-up store fronts, abandoned water parks and shattered souls. Quite literally they have nothing else to do, and the movie resonates with the kids' malaise without falling victim to it.

But their habitually, disturbingly, willfully detached way they've learned to live their lives is shaken when, during a moment of half-hearted roughhousing, one of the kids (ironically not George) falls, fatally striking his head on a cement floor.

Convinced blame (and perhaps legal culpability) will be laid at their collective feet, the kids cover up the accident and let the town think the dead child ran away. Writer and director David Gordon Green then moves in close to examine how subsurface guilt, or lack of it, begins to effect each of his characters -- sometimes in unexpected ways. George, for instance, becomes determined to be a savoir and starts pursuing an everyman superhero fantasy, trying to save lives and be an excessively exemplary citizen.

This turning point in the plot, however, is also where the picture begins leaving a trail of unanswered questions.

Why these kids don't try to get their friend to a hospital or call for help isn't entirely clear. Yes, they're afraid of blame. Yes, their meager consciences haven't kicked in. But are they really so dim as to think they couldn't explain themselves?

On a more nagging, literal level, there are moments where Green seems to forget the conditions under which his characters live, like when the children take a taxi to the location where they hide the body. OK, 1) Where did they get the money for a taxi? 2) There's a cab company in a town where nobody has any money? 3) The cabby didn't notice that one of the kids had blood all over him?

But the remarkable simplicity, honesty and gravity brought to "George Washington" by its cast of non-professional actors helps push the viewer beyond such logistical hiccups, impossible to ignore as they are.

The certain turmoil the kids seem doomed to endure really weighs on their forever troubled minds in a way that permeates the viewer's psyche so effectively that the movie's tangible empathetic impact makes up for its distracting logical loopholes.

Green's story and direction are so cogitative that it seems he could only have ignored the film's shortcomings consciously, as if to say, "Yes, these things don't make sense, but what I'm saying is more important." If you become engrossed enough in the picture, which is easy to do, he might be right. But the nagging faults would have been so easy to fix that it's hard to let them slide, even in a film with as much raw power as this one.



George Washington

Facts and Figures

Run time: 89 mins

In Theaters: Friday 28th September 2001

Distributed by: Code Red

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Fresh: 51 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 7.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Nasia, as George, as Vernon, as Buddy, as Sonya, as Rico Rice, as Damascus, as Aunt Ruth, Derricka Rolle as Whitney, as Denise, as Euless, as Augie, Beau Nix as Rico's Father

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

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.