10 February 2004 | j_nevada59
Slow, pretty film
I knew that "All the Real Girls" was going to receive a pretty intense amount of backlash for its sparseness, but damn if there aren't some pretty hostile remarks here, (haha). Can't say that I blame people for dissing it though. I, surprisingly, found myself having a lot more patience for this film then I thought. It could be because I live relatively close to the town where it was filmed, (well kind of, Raleigh's about 3-4 hours from Asheville), and found it to be a relatively accurate portrayal of young folks living in a small, North Carolina mountain town. In an environment like this you have tight-knit communities, close friendships, not much of an economic prospect, (hence all the late-20 something kids still living with their parents), very blissful scenery, and plenty of room for dreaming.
Paul, to me, is a very believable character as is his situation. He kind of fits the stereotype of a tough, damaged dreamer, but his awkwardness with Zoe and his playful monkeying with his friends and family break him of the James Dean mold. His character seems to have been very carefully crafted as to not fall into any cliches. Paul is certainly not the smartest individual, but he wears his heart on his sleeve and and seems just emotionally "open" enough. Though he's essentially in the same boat as his friends, (endless monotony in a small town, seeming to go nowhere, etc.), he does possess some sustenance that his friends don't seem to have. Paul has burnt all of his bridges in regards to his cynical romantic life, but he still has hope that there is more for life to offer. Paul's tainted image as a heartbreaker and a user is never very visible, but his willingness to express his regret and desire to change provide his character with some pretty rugged layering. He wishes to come to terms with his past, but wants to move forward as a better, changed man. Paul is delighted at the discovery of finding true love, but is also scared of losing it.
I enjoyed the rest of the characters as well. The tough, older brother of the girl you love- (Tip), the clown- (Bust Ass, his extra scenes on the DVD are a riot), the quiet, philosophical friend- (Bo), the damaged, but sweet natured, uncle, the desperate, but loving, mother. All of them were very real to me. Their subtlety and simple dialogue really brought this film to life for me, (though the subtlety seems to be what loses most viewers).
I'm not sure films of this nature should come with some kind of "be prepared for slow pacing and little action" warning, but they certainly are not everyone. For me, I enjoyed every cinematic sweep of the Asheville Mountains as well as the very realistic emotional intensity that mounted between all the characters. The soundtrack was equally amazing. Every song was perfectly placed and not overused. This is the first film I've seen by this director, and I look forward to any other he will make.