Thursday, February 14, 2013


All The Real Girls is David Gordon Green's sophomore feature about the world of young, awkward, funny, uncomfortable & sometimes painful love. This came out around the time when everything from Sundance was starting to look the same so it's somewhat understandable to forget its existence (especially now that just about everyone involved in this film has gone on to bigger projects). Now that a decade has passed maybe it's time to revisit this film which went on to influence recent stuff like Lars & The Real Girl (which features All The Real Girls co-star; Paul Schneider), Take Shelter, Shotgun Stories & Blue Valentine. All The Real Girls has its share of Malick-isms (sunsets, poetic ambiance, crisp & shinny cinematography, etc) but it's not OOZING with slow-motion shots and voiceover straight outta The Thin Red Line like we saw in Green's first film; George Washington (GW is one of my favorite movies but it wouldn't exist without Malick). Instead it features some of the energy & rawness of John Cassavetes had he made a film set in the deep south.
All The Real Girls is the love story of "Paul" (the local town womanizer) & "Noel" (a young naive 18 year old with no relationship experience). While Paul has a reputation for sleeping around with just about every woman in town (which doesn't seem to bother Noel at all) something about Noel makes Paul want to slow down, cut off all his ties with other women, not have sex right away and be in an actual relationship. Naturally problems arise - Noel happens to be Paul's best friend's little sister which brings up some obvious tension. Additionally, Noel is young, coming of age, learning about herself and is easily swayed by other guys. By the end of the film both Paul & Noel come out more mature even though they've both hurt each other. Although both Paul & Noel cheat, this film is one of the few sympathetic looks at characters that are unfaithful. In Paul's case; yes he's cheated on every woman he's been with but once it happens to him and he feels that same pain he's inflicted on so many other woman he somehow isn't that bad of a guy anymore...just young & dumb. In Noel's case, she's only 18, hasn't been with anyone else so its kinda understandable that she'd fall too temptation.
The most important thing about All The Real Girls is that it's a film about young love made by young people and not some cynical 40-something year old that's seen it all & done it all and is jaded towards romance or the thought of a relationship. Green and co-star Paul Schneider came up with the script in college and finally made the film when they were still in their 20's. Not that it's impossible for an older person to direct a film about young love but there's the possibility that it wouldn't be as authentic when told from the perspective of a biter middle-aged filmmaker instead of someone as young, mature & in touch with things like a 20-something year old David Gordon Green. Would you wanna watch a film about 40 year old parents or someone going through a mid-life crisis if it was directed & written by someone in their early twenties with limited life experience?

All The Real Girls is also an important film due to its representation of men. Yes it's true that still even in this day & age men can be a bit repressed & insecure about expressing their feelings (especially when it comes to love and/or sensitivity) but All The Real Girls breaks that notion. Say what you want but it takes guts for a guy to say a line like; I just want to make sure that a million years from now I can still see you up close and we'll still have amazing things to say and actually mean it.

Young love is awkward. It fills you up with that fun kind of anxiety that you hate & love at the same time. You can't fully be yourself and you say the most random things. There are some moments in All The Real Girls that seem a bit forced. Random lines like; I had a dream that you grew a garden on a trampoline, and I was so happy that I invented peanut butter or moments between Schneider & Deechannel where they stammer & stutter nervously in each other's presence but when you think about it we've all said random & embarrassing things or have been nervous & anxious around someone we're in love with or have feelings for. Bottom line, All The Real Girls may be awkward and a little "off" at times but it's one of the most genuine explorations of young love to come out in years.
Besides the romance angle, All The Real Girls features some touching scenes between friends (the scene where Paul & Tip make up is one of the most honest "BRO-moments" where two insecure guys let their guards down) and family (all the scenes between Paul and his mother, played by Patricia Clarkson, are great). Besides Schneider & Dechannel, the supporting cast makes this film great. Shea Whingham, Patricia Clarkson & Danny McBride (in his feature film debut) are all awesome in their performances. I remember watching this YEARS ago and thinking Danny McBride would end up being a big star one day and look at him now. And Shea Whingham delivers one of my favorite lines in a movie ever: we're not best friends ain't even in my top 10! (for an adult to say that to another adult is just hilarious to me). Much like George Washington before and Undertow after, All The Real Girls has that same "timeless" feel to it that I described in my Badlands review. From the clothes to the setting, All The Real Girls has that unique vibe about it where the story could have taken place in 1970 or right now.

If you have plans with your significant other that involve staying and not doing much, I highly recommend this.


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