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All the Real Girls (2003)

Drama movie directed by David Gordon Green

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Its strengths ultimately work against it

  • Dec 12, 2003
  • by
I won't rehash the plot for you, which many previous reviewers have done quite well. To say this is a movie about "young love" doesn't give enough credit to the many layers. We see how this love affair affects not only the couple, but those close to them...friends, parents, previous lovers, etc. It is a tenderly made movie, slow to develop. No one really makes any brilliant speeches that feel like a writer labored over them...yet the people are talking all the time. Their emotions are right there to be understood by any feeling, thinking person.

It's a rare thing to feel such EMPATHY for characters. In many of the scenes, we are right there with them. The filmmaker, working with a miniscule budget, has made the choice to let the ambient sounds of this little factory town just kinda wash over most of the scenes. We can almost imagine that we're looking and listening out of a window, eavesdropping on the conversations of others. This makes us realize how often when we observe film, we are being "manipulated" by professionals...ALL THE REAL GIRLS feels real.

It's a heady experience, and we draw close to these characters in a way we don't often. I'm not saying that more "Hollywood" movies don't make us care about the characters...it just FEELS a little different here, and that is a kick.

Everyone in the movie is excellent...but I especially commend the two women. Patricia Clarkson (so brilliant in FAR FROM HEAVEN) gives another effortless performance here. I believe an Oscar lies in her not too distant future. SHe just needs to be in a movie seen by a few more people. And Zooey Deschanel is capable of being one of our GREAT young actresses. She is attractive in a totally believable way. She has a naturalistic, unself-conscious manner...mixed with some genuine quirkiness. I like her a lot!

Towards the end of the movie, the central relationship runs into some MAJOR roadblocks. These are painful, and we are eager for a "Hollywood" resolution. It doesn't come...but neither does an emotional payoff. We see how the characters lives are changed...how they develop in their understands. But somehow, just when we should be feeling it most, the characters suck their emotions into themselves...leaving us, their sympathetic viewers, out in the ocld. So, although I totally admire the movie, the craft, the totally convincing performances...I ended up leaving the movie theater feeling let down. I'm not saying the movie needed a "happy ending" or a "tear-jerker" moment...but it does take the naturalistic approach just a bit too far...it needed just a bit more "plot."

By all means take a look at this movie, though. The Razor-sharp dialogue and great acting make it worthwhile.

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More All the Real Girls (2003) reviews
review by . August 11, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
ALL THE REAL GIRLS is strange little film written and directed by David Gordon Green, an attempt to capture the claustrophobia of a small North Carolina town where finding love in the midst of an atmosphere devoid of secrets. It boasts a strong cast, has some moments of touching repartee, but in the end we are left with a lack of feeling for/caring about any of the characters. Green's fidgety camera work, jumbled scene changes, and lack of character development prevent the good points to out weigh …
review by . January 20, 2006
This is the first film from David Gordon Green I've come across. The film has to be accepted on its own terms. Slow-paced, sensitive, and dreamy, it gets deep inside of its characters. Paul may be a callous seducer, but he's so gentle with the girl he loves, that he won't even take her virginity when they get a hotel room. When she makes some mistakes that he considers betrayal, this blue-collar tough guy is just as heartbroken and emotionally vulnerable as anybody with more "refinement". Although …
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Ranked #147
I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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About this movie


You'd think moviemakers would have run out of new ways of capturing the trials and joys of young love--but director David Gordon Green finds a fresh take inAll the Real Girls, a bittersweet small-town romance. By leaving out the usual humdrum exposition of a courtship story, Green cuts right to the little moments that form the high and low points of a budding relationship. It's an impressionistic style aided by the wonderfully spontaneous and unpredictable acting of Paul Schneider (who also co-scripted) and Zooey Deschanel--who look like they're improvising, even though they're not. As in Green's excellent debut featureGeorge Washington, a small town serves as an atmospheric backdrop--this place looks a couple of decades shy of the 21st century. The mosaic approach makes the film play like a collection of memories, someone's first love recalled with fondness and just a bit of regret.--Robert Horton
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Director: David Gordon Green
DVD Release Date: August 19, 2003
Runtime: 108 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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