User Reviews (124)

  • j_nevada5910 February 2004
    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.
  • Ralph Michael Stein6 April 2003
    First Love: Appalachia or Gotham, the Pain's the Same
    Low budget and low tech, director David Gordon Green's "All the Real Girls" first struck viewer nerves at Sundance and it will do so everywhere.

    Set in Appalachia with shots of the beautiful mountains juxtaposed with a town that never knew prosperity and is left behind in today's North Carolina where the Research Triangle is where it's at, this is a truly affecting and universal story of first love. It's told honestly, without either director's affectation or cast overacting. The story has soul.

    Zooey Deschanel plays, outstandingly, a girl, "Noel," returned from boarding school where she's been since age twelve. She plays the trombone and doesn't want to go to college. She's never had a real job and seems not to have acquired much if any ambition or sophistication while away from home. She's a virgin and it's clear that hardly any of her contemporaries who didn't leave town are even remotely chaste. In fact, the suggestion is that most sleep with virtually all the young guys. Including two, "Paul," played by Paul Schneider and his best friend "Tip," portrayed with a brooding intensity by Shea Wigham. Tip is also Noel's brother and protective of her he is. So when his formerly carefree gangbanging bud, Paul, falls head over heels for Noel and she reciprocates he has issues.

    The story is universal: the joy and pain of a serious first love, the pitfalls of communication, the unawareness of how words told and events improvidently related can be like mines going off. The simple but inevitable price exacted by inexperience and not just sexual.

    There is a quiet and achingly familiar reality to Noel's and Paul's relationship. Anyone honest will recognize himself or herself from some early life. Anyone who genuinely doesn't has missed some pain but at a price. Director Green unflinchingly unravels the mysteries of growing wiser, a necessary but in some ways sad departure from innocence.

    Without drugs or crime or a social commentary on the moribund economy of a gorgeous region, the film focuses on the two young people and their families and friends. They are recognizable, worthy of caring about.

    When Paul, trying to understand Noel's not wholly consistent emotions and actions, blurts out that he's not that smart, a number of people in the audience chortled and several yelled out "No, you're not." They didn't understand that his comment wasn't self-denigratory but a nakedly honest confession of confusion and fear of loss. Haven't we all experienced that?

  • Claudio Carvalho2 November 2005
    Real and Simple Love Story
    In a small town, Paul (Paul Schneider) and Tip (Shea Whigham) are best friends, and Paul is the great seducer, having shagged twenty-six girls in the town. When Tip's sister Noel (Zooey Deschanel) and Paul date and fall in love for each other, the friendship of Tip and Paul is shaken. After a short trip of Noel to a house nearby a lake with her girlfriends, the relationship of Paul and Noel changes.

    "All the Real Girls" is a very real and simple love story. The situations in this low-budget movie are very convincing, and the cast is really good. Zooey Deschanel is a really a beautiful woman, has a stunning performance and shows a great chemistry with Paul Schneider. The participation of Patricia Clarkson in a support role is excellent as usual. The open end fits adequately to this single and awarded romance. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Prova de Amor" ("Proof of Love")
  • liza17 February 2003
    The realest (read: least insipid) relationship film I've seen in ages.
    I went into this movie with absolutley no expectations, and it seems I was better off than a lot of people who reviewed it negatively. This is by far one of the best, most realistic romance films (or films in general) I've ever seen. Not everyone likes to be beaten over the head by unrealistic Cinderella stories, and this movie is perfect for people who are sick of funny and romantic "romps." Not to say it isn't both funny and romantic, because it is. It's just strikingly different from most. I loved the stark cinematography, the beautifully understated and timeless soundtrack and, most of all, the superbly real acting in this film. (Patricia Clarkson is God.) I enjoy the human comedy, even when it doesn't end on a tradtionally happy note, and this is right up there with "Harold and Maude" in my list of favorite relationship movies ever. The bottom line is this movie made me feel. Sometimes happy and sometimes sad, I never found myself disinterested in what would happen next. No, I don't recommend it if you're looking for the next "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." But if you're looking to feel something and can handle a film with pacing that allows you to analyze your emotions between scenes, this is it. Of course, it also helps that Paul Schneider is the cutest, quirkiest guy I've seen break down in a long time. Likewise, Zooey Deschanel's performance was authentic and devastating. I loved this movie.
  • noralee16 March 2003
    First True Love is beautiful. And it hurts.
    "All the Real Girls" is a beautiful effort by writer/director David Gordon Green to visualize inarticulate people as they struggle with love.

    The scenic North Carolina landscape surrounds the characters as they seek, unsuccessfully, for comparable inner beauty with romance and family. But human interactions can't be as perfect as a sunset.

    Every person here is hurting in some way (including a widower uncle and a developmentally disabled brother), and if they aren't in the beginning they are by the end as they have to learn to stop idealizing the people they love, who can't live up to that. Some reconcile to it, some can't, and none can explain it.

    In this small town, everyone knows everyone's business and heart and can't walk away from that intimacy. While that is realistic and the dialogue is very naturalistic, it's a bit unsatisfying to watch as a romantic drama.

    Hunky co-creator Paul Schneider (strikingly like young Kevin Costner) sets up the confusion when he tries to convince us he's the town heartbreaker; I did not pick up for quite awhile that he was supposed to be such a bad boy as he just seemed so sweet from the first scene on. His laidback scenes with aggressive Zooey Deschanel are full of such tenderness as the full force of First True Love hits them, that the disappointments that follow are are quite the downer.

    "Tully" had very similar character and story arcs, and, while schmaltzier, was more satisfying as a movie experience.

    The alt-country instrumental and song soundtrack, including Mark Olson & the Creekdippers, is quite poignant.
  • August Lamczyk16 December 2005
    Quietly Amazing
    All the Real Girls This is possibly the most accurate film about coming of age in small town America. It does this two ways first as other reviewers have noted the cast in the film portrays a realistic group of people making the best of it in a small town. Their behaviors are ordinary and often verge on boring much like a "normal person" in a small town, and not what Hollywood would have us believe youth/people are like. Upon further reflection I realize anyone outside of the norm really sticks out in this film in an awkward if not contemptible way. For the youth it is basically a waiting age for the big thing that will enhance their lives. I do not believe any of the young characters had much of anything resembling a job. They young cast of men hang out at a salvage yard and help/get in the way through the movie. The older characters are stoic and though they say little you get a feeling that they have seen it all before possibly in their own lives or of others.

    The second amazing thing about this film is how well it captures the pace of small town life. It is repetitive and monotonous but in the stillness maybe one is capable of seeing more beauty then in faster paced places. I have never been to a North Carolina mill town and till this film never even thought about one but the filming of the area is very well done showing beauty where you least expect it be it the rain in a textile factor or someone going "Shhh shh".

    On these two factors alone I'd recommend this film but the acting and story is very solid. It has been over a year since I viewed the film but the images still come to mind rather vividly, but the names of the characters escape me so I will leave that to others. I do not know who directed this film or for that matter recognized any of the actors but that is more of a testament of how strong of a work this film is and I highly recommend it.
  • Scoopy19 January 2003
    Slow, dreamy, poetic look and first love won and lost
    World premiere at SUNDANCE 2003. Has a distributor (Sony) and will be in limited release on February 14

    OFFICIAL PLOT SUMMARY: Twenty-two-year-old Paul lives with his beloved mom and works as a grease monkey in a broken down North Carolina mill town. Unambitious, he has a devoted circle of rowdy friends and a reputation as a callous heartbreaker. When he meets his best friend's sister Noel, fresh from her boarding school graduation, the two fall into a perfect, real, terrifying love. They share innermost secrets and inhabit a sweet, dreamy bubble of mutual admiration and understanding.

    COMMENTS: The film has to be accepted on its own terms. Slow-paced, sensitive, and dreamy, it gets deep inside of its characters. Paul may be a callous seducer, but he's so gentle with the girl he loves, that he won't even take her virginity when they get a hotel room. When she makes some mistakes that he considers betrayal, this blue-collar tough guy is just as heartbroken and emotionally vulnerable as anybody with more "refinement". Although he is a mechanic in a Southern podunk town, his character is portrayed without any Southern or working class stereotypes.

    It's a collaborative movie made by college buddies. Director David Gordon Green and star Paul Schneider also co-wrote the screenplay, and went to college together. Editor Zene Baker is another college buddy. I suppose you might truly call this a true collaboration. Green has the title of director, but when your two best buds are also your editor and screenwriter, not to mention the fact that one of them is on camera constantly, it's difficult to say where one person's contribution ends and another's begins.

    If you would enjoy a slice of life comedy/drama that will probably evoke many memories of how you felt when you won and then lost your first love, this is an effective and heartfelt personal statement about that moment of time. The small town locales and the original score work to perfection.

    Not the way we were in the Hollywood sense, and maybe not a big box office kind of picture, but an insightful look at the way we really were.

    These young fellas are good, dawg!
  • Chris Knipp30 August 2003
    The myth of plotlessness
    Warning: Spoilers
    I'd never paid so much for a regular film showing as I did for All the Real Girls. I went to see it at the Electric Cinema on the Portobello Road in London, not knowing that there, except for Mondays, the cheapest seats cost $16, and that is in the first three rows. The leather seats are handsome and new, but that didn't do much good on a hot humid day when they were just sticky. Thus I began the experience in a state of mild annoyance, but determined to get the best out of my expensive seat.

    I did finally get a slightly better idea why there is a fuss made about David Gordon Green. Having only watched his George Washington on video on a small monitor, I hadn't been able to appreciate his visuals, which here are indeed often stunning. They can descend to Hallmark card prettiness at times, but since he's working with a decaying North Carolina mill town as a backdrop, that doesn't happen too often, and his use of maximum aspect ratio does create a sense of the `decayed grandeur' that my own father used to love about the American South. Close-ups of people are large and striking. Green's cinematography has a kind of epic, glorious shabbiness and can be original, if he'll steer clear of the Hallmark moments. His editing and overall style are certainly original, but whether they succeed is another question.

    It seems to me that Green has been overrated as a director. His improvised, apparently plotless, meandering filmmaking has appealed to some major film critics who no doubt are starved for freshness and originality and are willing to overlook crudeness and self indulgence when it's an escape from the conventional slick films they see every day. But Green's style is more than a little self indulgent and has yet to live up to the hype.

    Before you award top marks to All the Real Girls I suggest you rent a copy of Hillary Birmingham's The Truth About Tully (2002, but not released till late 2001 as Tully) and ask yourself if that version of virtually the same story isn't clearer, more involving, and dramatically more complex.

    Tully, like All the Real Girls, is about a rural lothario who's had sex with all the girls in town and then falls in love with an innocent young virgin and becomes shy and awkward because he's found `the one' and can't take her seduction lightly. There's a powerful subplot about Tully's father (wonderfully played by grizzled unknown Bob Borrus) and an ending that is quietly heart-wrenching.

    The first problem with Green's film is the casting. He has combined the better known Zoey Deschanel as the virgin with his own actor from George Washington, Paul Schneider, as the town seducer. The trouble is that Deschanel, though her ability to mimic naivety and authenticity is still there, is a bit too polished and pretty to be right for the part, and that Schneider, conversely, isn't smooth or attractive enough for a Cassanova.

    Anson Mount, who plays Tully, exudes confidence and dangerous sex appeal in every scene, and his costar, Julianne Nicholson, has a homegrown freckle faced freshness about her that's just right. Put them together in a scene, and the plot develops almost automatically. But Tully is very much plot-driven, suspenseful, and tightly organized, and All the Real Girls is not.

    Deschanel and Schneider embarrass because their improvisation, while meandering and seeming to go nowhere, only reveals how wrong they are for their roles. In particular Schneider's clumsiness short circuits any sense that he could be a serial seducer. He's puffy faced and without polish; you can't imagine how all the girls would fall for him. Even impoverished southern towns have sexy guys, and Paul isn't one.

    Some like the way scenes break off unresolved in All the Real Girls, or appear for five or ten seconds and suddenly vanish. The idiosyncratic editing certainly gives the film a unique style that in some abstract sense is fun to watch. The movie ends with a one-way conversation between Paul and his dog, which refuses to try swimming. Paul's mother plays a clown for parties and a hospital, which does little but add an oddball, downbeat note -- and a vaguely familiar one.

    Green's ability to get at and awaken raw emotions (chiefly our embarrassment at the principals' confusion and guilelessness) far exceeds his skill or subtlety as a storyteller. It's in the nature of improvisation that plots fray at the edges, as watching Cassavetes will show you, and Green's impulsive editing style only makes the edges fray still further.

    Despite their questionable casting, all of the magnetism of All the Real Girls is due to Schneider and – especially – to Deschanel, who still unquestionably has the ability to be pretty and charming and at the same time awkward and authentic-seeming. It's become a bit of a schtick for her; but let that pass. However, Green ought to have modified Noel's back story to fit with her quality of having been around the block. And he ought to have created reasons for Schneider's bumbling quality, such as making him older and more experienced, but not the town lothario.

    Green was lucky and smart to get Deschanel for his movie because she's the point of light in a dim cast. The fact that Noel has a retarded younger brother only makes you wonder about the other males in town. The dialogue among Paul's pals makes them seem even dumber than they're meant to be. Green manages both to romanticize his locales and to be condescending toward them.

    Noel has just returned to town after many years at a Catholic boarding school. After lots of Marty-like hesitation between her and Paul, and a huge roadblock created when he learns she's a virgin, she leaves town with friends but without Paul for a drunken party weekend and loses her virginity to a stranger. Instead of taking this in stride Paul completely loses his cool and turns against Noel.

    Noel's brother is Paul's best friend, which of course complicates the situation since he knows Paul's history better than anyone. But the relationships among the guys are developed through atmospheric scenes rather than through plot developments. Another close friend of Paul begs to become `number two' with Noel. After the estrangement of the two would be lovers, Paul cleans up, shaves, and puts on a suit and tie (a momentous event in this run-down town) only to find that Noel is in fact with `number two.' There's a little peacemaking but the situation is left unresolved.

    In Tully, the same problem exists: Tully doesn't know what to do when he finds he's really in love with a young virgin. Our sense of this situation isn't weakened, but on the contrary is strengthened, by the fact that specific plot developments and well defined and concluded scenes occur around this basic conflict. And it is misleading to think of All the Real Girls as plotless. Rather, the plot elements are made a hash of and handled badly. The emphasis is on atmosphere and the visual element at the expense of resolution. All the Real Girls is the kind of movie that evokes strong reactions in some people. Some adore it and others think it absolute rubbish and its characters contemptible. My own impressions are far less clearcut, however. I would be hard put to rate it. I found it self indulgent and badly put together. Plot is a necessary element in any film, a structure upon which the relationship between the audience and the movie's various other elements must rest. The unresolved aspect of Green's movie weaken its emotional impact. Nonetheless one does have the impression of having watched something special and original. Green tries to weld amateurishness into art much as Robert Frank did in the early Sixties, and his movies are assured of a cult audience. I wasn't so happy about paying $16 for a seat, but I didn't ask for my money back either.
  • Samiam329 August 2009
    Nice movie
    It's good every now and then to come across a film like All the Real Girls. Here is a romance which is realistic and virtually free of gimmick and clichés. It is also photographed beautifully, scored beautifully and characterized in a unusual and interesting manner. It is a film that leaves you thinking, but for all its goodness, it still needs a bit of work.

    In a small town, Paul has a reputation for having sex affairs with all the local girls (twenty- six to be exact). One day, his best friend's sister drives into town for a visit. She and Paul hang out together first as friends but eventually as a strange couple. it looks as if Paul is ready to go strait for the first time, something which is making his friends and family a little suspicious. What is to come?

    After the first hour, All the Real Girls is close to being a great film, but something goes wrong. I should point out that in addition to a romance, the movie is also a drama, and dramas need a conflict of some sort. Writer/Director David Gordon Green chooses to throw one in to begin the final act, and he does it in an overly forced, abrupt manner. The scenes which follow are not terrible, but they don't quite match the rest of the picture. They are less interesting and more melodramatic. The ending in fact is kind of sad, but it reminds you that this is not an artificial fictional story, this is a movie which delivers a potential real life scenario.

    Ignoring the mild errors, All the Real Girls is one of the most accomplished romance films I've seen lately, and it's worth watching.
  • Howlin Wolf22 October 2005
    As a sensitive guy, the most romantic film I've seen in a long time.
    ... It captures perfectly the awkwardness of really loving somebody, but not being sure how to take it a stage further without destroying what's been built up. As a viewer, you'll most likely believe in the central relationship and not want it to hit problems; because YOU wouldn't want it to end, either, if you were in their situation. It's underscored throughout by a wonderfully gentle soundtrack, too.

    There are long sequences of elegiac wistfulness; staring out over beautiful scenery. With 9 films out of ten that try this tactic, I would get impatient, choosing to believe that this is a director's underhanded way of trying to pad out the runtime. Not here. The sense of loss evoked by the visuals and the mournful score is absolutely key to the films emotional impact. If for some reason you're not tuned into the mood; then I can imagine this style would be annoying; but I found myself completely immersed, and it was great. This is the first film from David Gordon Green I've come across, but I shall be eagerly on the lookout for the rest of his stuff in the future, based on this wonderful evidence.
  • grampy15 January 2004
    plot tarnishes tone
    A perfect movie to watch if you're in the mood to just chill out and watch the sunset but it's already dark. It offers the meditative sensation of Baraka combined with a nearly pitch perfect portrayal of a small town slice of life topped off with an inherently interesting 'young love' story. My only thoughts for the filmmaker (and in my opinion a significant oversight) would be to figure out how to wrap up the story without affecting the tone... the last quarter felt tedious as you began to expect the traditional dramatic/thematic resolution and therefore anticipate the number of scenes to come; which work best when you're not intellectually involved but emotionally - or even better - intuitively involved.... once the brain clicks in, the experience becomes of one of anticipation and with a film like this, impatience.
  • dr_foreman15 February 2010
    All the Real Bores
    Warning: Spoilers
    Nothing grates quite so much as a "realistic" film that contains practically no realism at all.

    To its credit, "All the Real Girls" really *tries* to be true-to-life. But the dialog and performances don't convince. Characters in this film are constantly doing and saying quirky, bizarre things that real people never do or say.

    For example, in one of many strange "romantic" scenes, the female lead says to her boyfriend: "I had a dream last night that you were growing a garden on a trampoline. And I was so happy that I invented peanut butter." So, what are we to make of this bizarre nugget of dialog? Is it "sentimental"? Is it "deep"? And is it the kind of thing that I would say on a date? (I'll answer the last question for you -- "no.") It's none of those things, it's just ridiculous ... the product of a strange, artificial mode of speech peculiar to American art-house movies.

    In another weird moment, our romantic leads are standing in an inexplicably deserted bowling alley (did they break in after hours?) The guy says to his girlfriend something like, "I wanna dance, but I don't want you to watch me. Turn around." So she turns around. And then he dances like a doofus. Do even goofy teenagers behave like this on dates? And am I really supposed to believe that this awkward-as-anything guy is a ladies' man, as we are repeatedly told (but not actually shown)?

    Other exciting scenes involve a lengthy discussion of what's better to eat for breakfast, pancakes or eggs; a woman in a clown costume declaring something like "I used to be beautiful, but now I am this clown"; and a scuffle in which an unimportant character gets beaten severely and choked, and is then totally forgotten about by all the other characters, the director, and the screenwriter. One of many strange lapses in a film of lapses.

    So, if your idea of a good time is to spend almost two hours in indie movie hell, watching a non-plot crawl along at the pace of a half-dead snail, while two superficial and thinly drawn characters alternate between flirting ridiculously and exchanging depressing anecdotes on their path to falling in a desperately superficial form of love ... well then, this may be the motion picture for you. I, for one, will be watching something like "Smiles of a Summer Night" or "Terror of Mechagodzilla" instead.
  • aks-1129 January 2003
    A treacly Hallmark card in its script, acting, score, and cinematography.
    It has all the self-important trappings of an Art Film, but is emotionally disingenuous and, worse, boring. Who cares about these self-involved people? It has all the angst and hand-wringing of Woody Allen at his most annoying, but none of the cleverness.
  • CFL-325 February 2004
    A broken down truck on cinderblocks ...
    Needed a script. Needed a wholesale purging of "Deliverance" cliches about the South -- retarded people, stock-car racin', drankin', mills, shabby cars and really ugly clothes. Needed a dialogue coach to get all the young losers into at least the same part of the country, if not the same state. Needed not to let the actors improvise when they had nothing to say. Needed some respect for the people it was supposed to represent, not all of whom are clowns, barroom drinkers, pompadoured cretins and Very Symbolic Children. And most of all, needed an ending, instead of another lovingly letter-boxed ode to a Rust Belt sunset. Despite my rant, I think the love story at the center could have been really, really well done, if the filmmaker had kept the two luminous leads and ditched all the Southern gothic.
  • RoyMunson97 June 2004
    I want my 108 minutes left
    This was the worst piece of crap movie I've ever watched. The only reason I watched the whole thing was the hope that it would skip ahead in time when the characters had finally gone to elementary school and learned the English language. I wish I could have rated it a zero, but 1 was the lowest. If this was your life, or you connected with this movie in some way, I feel very sad for you. I look forward to never seeing another movie this bad ever again. Did this movie actually have a script? The actors didn't seem to know what to say half the time, and when they did say something, you dreamed of the moment that they would shut it. I've tried real hard, but I don't think I could ever express how bad this movie was. This movie made Stolen Summer look like an Oscar contender.
  • David Eidelman28 March 2003
    I suffered for 106 minutes
    We chose this movie based upon a good review in local paper. I knew we were in trouble when some friends leaving the film said it was slow and very disappointing. They were right. It was the most boring movie I've ever seen. No, to be honest, Moulin Rouge was worse. If you want to suffer great pain, don't miss All the Real Girls! The lines in the script make little sense. The story isn't funny. No one in the theater laughed (maybe a chuckle here and there). When it was over there was stunned silence--"How could a movie be this bad?", I figured the audience must be thinking. The male lead seemed to have an IQ of 45 for a while, then he would sound like his IQ was 150, then back to 45, etc. Nice scenery though. Bottom line: It stunk big time!
  • lbm2167 April 2003
    The worst movie I've seen in recent memory
    I don't think that words can aptly describe how painfully bad this movie is but I'll give it a try. I wanted to see All the Real Girls because I'd read several reviews that were very favorable but after sitting through just thirty seconds of the opening scene I knew I had made a bad choice. It's hard to critique this movie because everything was so excruciatingly awful. The script was boring and the dialogue was contrived and not at all clever. There was not one funny line in the entire movie, the few attempts at what was supposed to be humor failed miserably. The story line was poorly constructed and the plot (if you could call it that) was also boring. The acting was certainly not stellar but I'm not sure how good it could have possibly been considering how shallow and underdeveloped all of the characters were. The scenery was indeed quite beautiful but the style in which it was incorporated into the movie was very heavy-handed and mundane. I cannot emphasize enough how horrible this movie was, it's an absolute embarrassment. I feel like I was robbed of the $10 I paid for the ticket not to mention the hour and a half of my life that was wasted (incidentally it was possibly the longest hour and a half I've ever experienced). Definitely do not waste your money by seeing this movie in the theater; it is utterly devoid of any redeeming attributes that might have made it even slightly worthwhile.
  • STMedia11 July 2011
    I was really pulling for this film...
    I saw this film when it was released in Asheville NC.

    Asheville, of course is the hometown of Paul Schneider, who plays the lead and co-wrote the screenplay. Asheville is also listed as the filming location, though that's not entirely true. The majority of the outdoor scenes were filmed in the small town of Marshall, which is about 30 minutes outside Asheville.

    As a resident of the area, I was certainly pulling for the film, as were many others. Asheville is an unusually sophisticated town when it comes to the arts. For instance, with a population of just under 70,000, it has a symphony, an opera company, and even a professional (equity) theater company. The little town is bursting at the seams with extremely talented creative people so I had every reason to expect great things from this film. Unfortunately, I could not have been more disappointed.

    If you approach this film assuming that it is an independent work of genius, (as some here have described it) It's possible that when you arrive at the end of the film you could continue to believe that, since the power of artistic suggestion can be strong. However, if you take it at face value, chances are you'll arrive at the end of the film wondering how the film has gotten as far as it has. There is certainly nothing "real" about the characters or the relationships. Spend some time here in Appalachia. You don't have to have been born here to figure out that the people portrayed in this film don't exist.

    I don't need a film to have a clearly discernible plot, and I'm quite happy for it to move slowly, but this film doesn't really have anything to offer. Story? There isn't one that is compelling or believable. Characters? Zooey Deschanel (who has become a truly great actress) is far more interesting in interviews ABOUT the film than her character is IN it, and she's the only character I could muster any interest in.

    Honestly, the film comes off as the kind of thing a group of not particularly gifted high school kids might come up with given the time and help of a good cinematographer.

    I'm truly baffled at the positive reviews. Consider the overall score and the box office. It was a financial flop, despite fairly wide international distribution, the kiss of Sundance and a tiny 2.5mil budget.

    If you want to see a film that has "real" characters that truly reflects rural people, see Winter's Bone. In fact, if you gave this film a positive review, go see Winter's Bone, watch this one again and then re-write your review.
  • mwg04275 May 2005
    Real people falling in love... Really.
    While watching this movie, I realized that the movie embodied what it is like for real people to fall in love in the real world. I also realized that I don't relate well to real people. They are shallow, stupid, and say the dumbest things. The timing and writing led to dialogue that was almost unbearable to watch. The characters were self-serving and oblivious to the existence to any other human beings' experiences in the world. Stupid people saying stupid things while making stupid mistakes. The only moral that could conceivably be taken away from this movie is, "Don't fall in love with nineteen year old girls!" If you watch the movie, consider yourself warned, but keep an eye out for the two legged dog. He had me crying laughing.
  • tedg12 May 2004
    Warning: Spoilers
    Spoilers herein.

    Warning, if you watch this on DVD, avoid the commentary at all costs. This is a case where the creators are inarticulate nitwits, but what they have created has a particularly intelligent design.

    Superficially, this is the simple formula: boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl back. With this edition, the two leads - and particularly the girl - are more honest and nuanced than usual. Zooey is the daughter of one of the industry's best infill cinematographer. These are the equivalent of session players who know how to fill all the holes in an ordinary song to give it the illusions of fullness and complexity. (For instance, he kept Mel Gibson's controversial, smarmy redaction from looking bad.)

    Green is a student of this technique. What we have is a film in which the story is the background. The foreground is a series of wonderful compositions with cinematic power. Apparently, these were intuitively derived. The one that really impressed me was a bowling alley scene where Zooey stands in the middle of the alley with her back to Paul and he dances in the same fashion we saw him do in a clown suit with his similarly redheaded mother. Compare that to the bowling alley scene in "Buffalo 66."

    It is worth watching for that scene alone, though there are several others. And Zooey impresses.

    Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
  • zenfroglet3 January 2005
    Pretty but ultimately empty.
    There's no denying that this is a beautifully shot film, showing all the "reality" of life in small town middle America. Well, I think at least this is what was shown, I've never lived there, so have no actual experience of life in such a small town. If the idea was to create a feeling of being out of touch and a in a bit of a backwater, it did that well.

    However I didn't like the film, I found it a bit too boring. Well I guess reality is boring, especially little town life, and since the film is meant to be "1000 times more real than Dawson's Creek", I guess the film is real.

    I'm sorry I watched this.

  • talltale-17 January 2004
    Over-rated, big-time!
    Here's another movie that too many critics have jumped up and down over and that finally disappoints. There is nothing wrong with trying to bring a fresh take to the love story, but to do this, one needs characters that are truly real and worth spending nearly two hours with. This film begin well, and the two leads draw you in, but then their characters start behaving so stupidly that eventually there's little point in remaining attuned. The photography is first-class, and the acting (when the script permits) is generally good. But this is now two films from David Gordon Green that--if you listen to the critics--promise much but deliver little.
  • reelcrazed11 October 2003
    Childbirth is easier to endure than this movie.
    In reading the jacket of this movie at my local Blockbuster, I was under the impression that this was the "indie" version of the rebel-boy-meets-innocent-girl-love-ensues-problems-happen genre of film. So many are so sugar coated these days, I thought this one would be different.

    Yeah, different in a very bad way!

    The flow of this movie is as choppy as Paul's speech patterns. The movie bounces all over the place. It reminded me of when I was first learning to drive a stick shift. FORWARD-->JERK! FORWARD-->JERK! And the notion that Paul is the casanova/scrog-dog of the town is just laughable. How could he possibly sweet-talk all of those girls into having sex if he can't put more than 3 words together at a time? Wouldn't he get stuck at "Hey, how about..."? I don't care how small of a town one one may live in, "Local Idiot" and "Local Womanizer" are not titles bestowed onto just one man.

    I thought the "making of" bonus feature on the DVD would give some insight. But alas, the director talks just like his characters and no real clarity is given.

    I don't have a problem with movie characters talking in "real life" language, but when they all come off as mildly retarded, it made me wonder if the local mill is dumping something into the water.
  • ekw ekw6 January 2006
    I really hated this film - more than most films I hate
    This movie is a long, slow, earnest melodrama about small town twenty-somethings struggling know...find themselves...get somewhere...grow up...ah, hell, I have no idea, really. The movie seems like it was shot through a thin layer of maple syrup, it's photographed so that we are stuck in that eternal autumn that permeates most small-town melodramas. All oranges, browns, and golds. The characters meander through their lives with little direction and no visible means of support. There's a factory which none of the characters seem to work in. Zooey Deschanel plays a very confused girl who is a virgin when she starts dating Paul Schneider. Schneider is a player (that's right, all of a sudden - totally out of nowhere - there are at least two babes in this town that we see Schneider has - inexplicably - laid. They wear professional makeup and look like the have their hair done in New York). He falls for Deschanel and doesn't screw her because he's a changed guy. It's his new self. So what does Deschanel's character do? SPOILER- MAJOR SPOILER - She screws some guy she just met at a weekend party at a lake. The whole rest of the film is devoted to the pain and inchoate ramblings of Schneider and the rest of the cast, all of whose lives seem to be hopeless and in need of doses of stiff, tough-sounding and superficial philosophies which, it appears, everyone can spout. Nothing like dead-end stultifying, small-town life to make a person a sage. The worst offenders are the virtually tongue-tied ramblings of Deschanel who can't, for the life of her - or any of the rest of us - speak in the simplest declarative sentences. While there are some rare moments of insight (the moments are rare, not the insights) in this movie, for the most part it is an incredibly self-indulgent, plodding little film dotted with stoner non-sequiturs, annoying and pointless little scenes where people, for no apparent reason, find themselves sitting in abandoned cars spouting puerile Hallmark Moments conjectures for no other reason than that the filmmakers apparently thought that would give it an art-house feel. Deschanel is fine as the wounded/wounding girl, Schneider is stiff, pasty, and dull as the boyfriend (he also wrote the story).
  • red_sparkley_dolly_shoes15 April 2004
    *Searching for merits*
    It depends what you want from a film. I see no point in watching a film about 'real life' because life can be incredibly boring, as this film proves, in fact I think I just re-evaluated my life and am pretty happy with it in comparison!

    It's only redeeming feature is it makes me think of those things that you witness and you wish like hell you could record, there's no reason to, but you just want them concrete and to not fade. This film has these, panoramic visions and little witty tiny scenes that are like memories.... BUT memories are great fun if they're personal; if they're the memories of some slow, boring hicks.... it just gets pretty tedious.

    I was pretty shocked when I saw how high the ratings for this film were. I would have turned it off myself but I have an annoying habit of hoping a film will get better. It's just not the way I'd want a film to be, I prefer to be told a different version of life, if I want life I turn on the news or even better look around me, talk to people, experience the world. I want to see different possibilities that intrigue, excite and inspire me. I don't want to see drawling, mindless dialogue and so many sunsets that they definitely loose their sparkle.

    I think the age gap between young brits and young americans also makes this film hard to relate to. These "kids" at 18? and 22? they're acting like me and my friends might in secondary school, at say I guess it's difficult to empathise with these characters as they are the same age and older than I am now but acting in a way that lies in my past. I couldn't quite get my head round whether that was an american issue, a less advanced lifestyle issue or just dodgy casting.

    Am glad I read the reviews here though, made me see a couple of good points, ok.... one. But maybe it's a semiotics issue, and I just don't relate to it, that's my take anyhoos

    From watching more of the bonus featureness of the dvd I can sort of see what they were trying to do, and I do quite like the idea, the trouble being it doesn't convey the idea quite as much as I think they think it does. It's always a problem when someone makes a project, they have an answer to everything and everything has been planned a certain way, filmed, edited etc, but since everyone involved knows exactly what it's *meant* to be they *get* it with all the background. The trouble is they want to show this to people who don't have all that 'background' of how they wanted it to look, I think the main problem is they didn't pull off what is actually a sort of nice idea.
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