The romance has been around since the inception of film, since the inception of drama, since the beginning of time. It’s a timeless story that hopefully all will experience in some form or another during their lifetime. Love can be a good thing. It can just as easily be horrible. David Gordon Green’s poetic All the Real Girls captures both senses of love – and beautifully to boot.
Love is the point at which two people can sit in silence and not worry about things being awkward. Love is when you can present yourself at your most vulnerable and not by worried about being mocked or tied to a stake. Love is when gibberish nonsense all of a sudden becomes sexy. Love is when you can’t make sense of your own thoughts, but the person across the room can fill in the blanks just by looking at you. Love is when you can trust someone so much that you can show them your real side, the private one that’s full of imperfections and nuances. Noelle (Zooey Deschanel) and Paul (Paul Schneider) are in love.
When the boys are together, the conversation revolves around the inconsequential: sports, girls, beer, fixing cars. It reflects the dead-end lifestyle that they experience living in a small town without any real opportunities to capture the American dream. All they can really hope for is to find someone special to experience their non-existence with.
All the Real Girls is a film that focuses on two types of language. There’s the audible talking and there’s body language. Both have a feeling of improvisation. Either that or they are so highly rehearsed and set out ahead of time that they feel as such. Lines like “I had a dream that you grew a garden on a trampoline and I was so happy that I invented peanut butter,” aren’t the type that are written. On paper, it’s ridiculous. Yet when Noelle says it, it’s beautiful. She says it in such a way that reflects the dreamlike innocence that enthrall Noelle and Paul at the start of their relationship. It’s a raw and playful feeling as they both appear to be saying the first things that pop into their head. The speech isn’t perfect. It’s filled with breaks and pauses and there’s a sense of surprise in each other’s reactions.
All the Real Girls is not a glossy romance but rather something clumsy and fragile. Bodies aren’t perfect. Some even have scars. They’re not the kinky trophy scars like the ones exchanged in an erotic game of one- ups manship between Mel Gibson and Rene Russo in Lethal Weapon 3 but rather scars with painful stories, scars that require a one-to-one trust to be established and maintained. Told from Paul’s point of view, All the Real Girls reflects his feelings for Noelle. At first there’s curiosity. This curiosity leads to a crush and the crush to love. But the gamut of emotion doesn’t stop there as the relationship hits some bumps and a couple of turning points along the way. All the while, the film follows Paul’s reality. Sometimes things make sense as he’s in control and calling the shots. Other times he’s helpless or ignorant and the script doesn’t make any excuses.
This is just the second film from director David Gordon Green. His first, George Washington, had the same complex simplicity where simple people talked in simple language. Yet the circumstances surrounding them were anything but. In boiling down language Green is able to capture emotions genuine emotion unlike any contemporary filmmaker I’ve seen as of late. Simply put, All the Real Girls is a poem. It’s dreamy and often doesn’t feel quite real – just like love is in its infancy. And like love, the film mucks about, making up the rules as it goes along. It’s not perfect, but neither is love. That’s the point of it.
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All the Real Girls Trailer