Thursday, November 17, 2011

#458. George Washington (2000)

Directed By: David Gordon Green

Starring: Candace Evanofski, Donald Holden, Damian Jewan Lee

Tag line: "down this twisted road, please watch over my soul and lift me up so gently so as not to touch the ground"

Trivia:  Nearly all of the actors in the film were non-professionals that had been hand-picked by David Gordon Green through random circumstances

It opens with a slow-motion montage of children frolicking on a summer's day. As a piano plays softly in the background, the narrator of the story, a young girl named Nasia (Candace Evanofski), introduces us to the world we’re about to explore. 

With this initial scene, director David Gordon Green establishes a soft, melancholy tone that will resonate throughout the film, transforming George Washington from a run-of-the-mill adolescent drama into a truly unique motion picture. 

Local youngster George (Donald Holden) is considered dim-witted by many who live in his peaceful southern town. Yet, despite his mental deficiencies, George is convinced that he’s better than most, and is destined for greatness. It’s his self-confidence that first impresses Nasia, who breaks off her romance with George's friend Buddy (Curtis Cotton III) to pursue a relationship with George. Unfortunately for Nasia, George is too busy searching for his place in the world to take any notice of her. 

That synopsis is as basic as they come, and doesn't even scratch the surface.  More stories unfold as George Washington progresses, but David Gordon Green is more interested in the characters that inhabit this sleepy community, and follows their exploits with a detached yet observant eye. One day, as George, Buddy, and their two friends Vernon (Damian Jewan Lee) and Sonya (Rachael Handy) are roughhousing in the bathroom of an abandoned building, a tragedy occurs (one I refuse to spoil for you here). In almost any other drama, this event would influence every action and reaction, every single situation from that point forward and become the focal point of the entire picture. 

But George Washington is not your typical film; as time marches on, even something as awful as what occurred in that bathroom becomes little more than a side story in the lives of its characters. For director Green, no situation is more important than the individuals who experience them, and he never once takes the focus off of his characters to explore narrative plot lines, regardless of how horrific the events might be.

It's this very characteristic that makes George Washington a singular cinematic achievement.


Chris said...

I remember the opening being hauntingly memorable and similar to Malick. The rest of the film I found to be a bit dull

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks for stopping by!

While I found the movie very intriguing (especially when it came down to the 'tragedy' and how the characters handled it), I can understand your reaction as well. It's not a movie to watch when you're feeling sleepy!

Thanks again, and have a good one!