All The Real Girls (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner28/07/2003

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

David Gordon Green’s follow-up to George Washington is one of the best films of the year – a beautifully shot, heart-breaking romance about real people, with a wonderful, break-out performance by Zooey Deschanel.

Writer-director David Gordon Green’s first film was the critically-acclaimed George Washington, about children growing up in small-town North Carolina. For his second film he has chosen to stay in small-town North Carolina in order to tell a heart-breakingly down-to-earth story about real love between real people. The result is one of the best films of the year.

Perfect Opening

The film’s opening scene perfectly sets up the plot and is one of the best moments in the film. A young couple, Paul (Paul Schneider) and Noel (Zooey Deschanel) are standing in a dimly-lit alleyway and we can tell they’re just at the beginning of a relationship. Noel asks Paul why he hasn’t kissed her yet and he replies that he wants to be able to answer truthfully when questioned by her brother (and Paul’s best friend) Tip (Shea Wingham). Then they kiss and we can see the chemistry between them and correctly anticipate the problems it’s going to bring.

We quickly discover that Paul (22) is something of a lothario, with a bad reputation among the local girls – something that Tip is only too well aware of. However, he’s never really been in love before and desperately wants things with Noel to be different.

For her part, Noel (18) has just returned from a six year stay at boarding school and is sexually curious, though also a little naïve and the film details the emotional conflict between the pair.

Beautifully Shot And Directed

The film is beautifully shot and directed, with Green’s unhurried, almost documentary-like style allowing him to get wonderfully naturalistic performances from his terrific cast. The script (written by Green but co-developed with Schneider) is equally good – these are not typical wise-cracking Hollywood teens, but real people who struggle for the right things to say.

That said, there are some great lines, such as when Trip tells Paul “You’re not my best friend anymore. You’re not even in my top ten!”.

The acting is excellent. The film benefits from Schneider being an unknown and he handles his difficult role well. There’s great support too, from Patricia Clarkson (Far From Heaven), as Paul’s Mum who works as a children’s clown, and from Danny McBride, as Paul’s amusingly dim-witted friend ‘Bust Ass’.

Star In The Making

However, the film really belongs to Zooey Deschanel, graduating to her first proper lead performance after notable support roles in things like Almost Famous and The Good Girl. She’s simply astonishing here – achingly beautiful, with amazingly expressive eyes and a great voice, managing to convey both Noel’s emerging confidence and also her vulnerability.

The film is jam-packed with memorable scenes. Highlights include: an unusual scene with Clarkson and Schneider as clowns at the hospital; the scene where Noel and Paul reveal secrets to each other; and a wonderful, wordless confrontation between the two leads in the middle of a bowling lane.

To sum up, All The Real Girls is the perfect antidote to substandard ‘Hollywood’ romance movies. It looks fantastic, the performances are wonderful and it even has a great soundtrack. This is the real thing. Unmissable.

Film Trailer

All The Real Girls (15)
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Content updated: 16/12/2017 22:14

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