Tuesday, 22 May 2007
ALL THE REAL GIRLS
All the Real Girls (2003) dir. David Gordon Green
Starring: Paul Schneider, Zooey Deschanel
“All the Real Girls” is one of the most truthful and honest stories about love. Co-written and directed by David Gordon Green, the 27-year-old sophomore director strips away the artificiality of Hollywood romance and manages to capture the awkwardness and painful realities of real life love. Nobody’s perfect, and there is no formula or script to achieving happiness.
Paul (Paul Schneider, a young John C. Reilly) and Noel (Zooey Deschanel) are two young people in the throws of new love. Though we’re only told after the fact, Paul was a former playboy with a bad reputation for loving and leaving his girlfriends. Noel on the other hand is a virgin and naïve to sex and relationships. The romance causes conflict with Noel’s brother Tip, who happens to be Paul’s best friend. Despite this the relationship blossoms though Paul chooses to delay sex because he’s actually in love with her and wants to treat her differently than his one-night stands. But just as things are going good, an act of infidelity causes a major rift. Suddenly everything is flipped around and both characters are thrown into the deep end of emotions and forced to tread water to survive. Both Noel and Paul make bad decisions and catching up to fix them complicates things even more. Over the course of the film complexities compound each other, and the question then becomes why can’t two people who truly love each other be together?
“All the Real Girls” is a different film than say, “Garden State”; it’s certainly not as accessible and requires patience to see the whole story through. Conflict begins about half through the film, and from that point on I guarantee you’ll be completely engrossed. Green sets the mood by capturing moments in time. He often enters scenes halfway through conversation and enjoys watching and observing people doing the most banal of endeavours. Therefore often he’ll shoot with extremely long lenses at his characters, say, fixing a wheel, or brushing one’s hair, or lighting a cigarette. This is how Green establishes the reality and eschews artificiality.
Green also de-romanticizes the environment. The film was shot in North Carolina, which was also the setting and location for “Dawson’s Creek”. In many ways “All the Real Girls” is the anti-Dawson, there’s no grandiloquent pontificating, or neat life-lessons learned. But Green is not subtle about his love for his characters, for example the bowling alley scene is so simple and touching but also shamefully romantic. Though the film is beautifully shot with magic-hour light and bathed in golden browns and yellows, Green relishes the ugliness of the town. He spends more time looking at decayed rusty train tracks and dirty old cars than Dawson’s autumn leaves or peaceful rivers.
At 30 years old, Green has marked a place for himself as a distinct American independent. His other films “George Washington” and “Undertow” show an improvement and progression of maturity to his filmmaking. But “All the Real Girls” is still my favourite. The film’s preciousness is summed up in the clown scene, which, in my opinion, is one of the best stand-alone scenes of American-indie quirkiness. Enjoy.
Buy it here: All the Real Girls