The Exploding Girl (tbc)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/10/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 79 mins

Emotionally engaging, impressively directed indie drama with an adorable central performance from rising star Zoe Kazan, though the languid pacing won't be to everyone's taste.

What's it all about?
Directed by Bradley Rust Gray, The Exploding Girl stars Zoe Kazan as Ivy, a college student with epilepsy who comes home to New York for the holidays. When her long-time friend Al (Mark Rendell) turns up on her doorstep with nowhere to stay, he's welcomed into the family home and the pair spend the summer hanging out, playing cards and chatting.

Alongside that, both Ivy and Mark are dealing with separate relationship issues; Ivy's desperately waiting for a recent college boyfriend to call her, whilst Mark starts flirting with a local girl he meets at a party, despite harbouring some fairly obvious feelings for Ivy that she's apparently unaware of.

The Good
Rising star Zoe Kazan (Revolutionary Road, Me and Orson Welles) is heartbreakingly good as Ivy and Gray makes strong use of her sweet face and huge blue eyes through frequent use of close ups. Rendell is equally good, conveying volumes with the way he looks at Ivy; the story of The Exploding Girl is very much told in looks and moments rather than dialogue.

The most impressive thing about the film is the powerful emotional weight given to small, yet devastating moments that are achingly familiar, such as Ivy's reactions to her boyfriend's phone calls or Al finally plucking up the courage to ask Ivy if she could like him as something more than a friend. Gray also makes some interesting dramatic choices; for example, you spend the whole film waiting for Ivy's inevitable epileptic fit (sadly, no one actually explodes), but when it comes, it's not played as a big dramatic moment, but rather a very touching, almost private scene between Ivy and Al.

The Bad
The only real problem with the film is the pacing, especially since very little actually happens. However, if you're prepared to just drift along in the company of the characters, there are plenty of rewards, not least of which is a note-perfect final scene.

Worth seeing?
In short, The Exploding Girl is a superbly directed, emotionally engaging indie drama that marks Zoe Kazan out as a talent to watch. Recommended.

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Content updated: 23/10/2017 17:53

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