Friday, May 6, 2011

#273. All The Real Girls (2003)

Directed By: David Gordon Green

Starring: Zooey Deschanel, Paul Schneider, Patricia Clarkson

Tag line: "Love Is a Puzzle.  These Are The Pieces"

Trivia:  This movie was nominated at seven different film festivals around the world, and won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance

It’s nighttime. A boy and girl are standing outside, locked in an embrace. She says she likes talking with him because she can say what’s on her mind. He asks what’s on her mind, and she, in turn, asks why he’s never kissed her. He replies it’s because he really likes her, and doesn’t want this relationship to be like all the others he’s experienced in the past. She lightheartedly suggests that he kiss the palm of her hand. That would make this ‘first kiss’ different, wouldn’t it? This opening shot of director David Gordon Green’s All the Real Girls runs for nearly four minutes, the camera never once cutting away from the young lovers, giving us a scene that is not only romantic, but also very genuine.

The boy is Paul (Paul Schneider), a young man in his early twenties who floats through life in a small southern town. His best friend is Tip (Shea Whigham), another lost soul, and the girl is Tip’s sister, Noel (Zooey Deschanel), who has just returned home from boarding school. Noel and Paul talk with each other frequently, and before long strike up a friendship. This upsets Tip, who knows how insensitive Paul has been with past girlfriends, Tip also knows Paul has slept with many of the girls in town, and wants to protect his sister from possible heartache. Yet Paul and Noel continue to talk, growing ever closer to one another until the moment they fall deeply in love. But when Noel spends a weekend with friends, it leads to an event that forces Paul to reflect not only on his relationship with Noel, but the selfishness he himself has exhibited in the past.

All the Real Girls flows smoothly, almost effortlessly, from start to finish, and as a result, not a single moment hits a false note; every character, conversation and relationship feels as real as it gets. In various interviews, director Green has acknowledged that he rejects the comforts of conventional filmmaking, allowing, instead, his instincts to take control. By doing so, he accepts that his films will inevitably take on a life of their own, evolving beyond not only the original script but also, on occasion, his personal concept of how the story should play out. What this freedom leads to is a film without pretense, without preconceptions, and we in the audience must be ready for any eventuality. Inevitably, once we're invested in these characters and their story, we find ourselves hoping it will turn in one direction or another. Will Paul and Noel end up together? We think so, but because of Green’s open structure, we honestly can't say for sure. At the very least, we trust that, whatever the outcome, All the Real Girls will end honestly.

Creativity is the rule on a David Gordon Green picture, perhaps the only rule, and he extends to everyone involved in the production process the same level of ingenuity that he allows himself. As long as he conveys honest emotions, Green says, then he’s making the film he wants to make. With All the Real Girls, he hits that mark dead-on.


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