All the Real Girls (2003)

FILM REVIEW || Director David Gordon Green | Writers David Gordon Green and Paul Schneider | Cinematographer Tim Orr | Starring Zooey Deschanel, Paul Schneider | Length 108 minutes | Seen at Cameo, Edinburgh, Saturday 2 August 2003 (and on DVD, most recently Saturday 30 March 2013) || My Rating 4 stars excellent

© Sony Pictures Classics

I started this blog as my cinema-going reviews, but I sometimes rewatch old films (or watch old films anew) at home, and I know it doesn’t quite fit into the ‘at the cinema’ theme, but I thought I’d try revisiting a film of the past. It’s now 10 years since All the Real Girls was released. I saw it in the cinema at the time, when I was roughly the same age as the film’s protagonists, and I accounted it my favourite film of the year when a few months later I made a list. I had very recently moved from New Zealand back to the city of my birth (Edinburgh). I was living in the basement under my aunt’s house, and feeling fairly disconnected: living on savings without a job, between relationships, feeling rather transient. I recount these autobiographical details, because more than most films, I really think such details are relevant to my response to this film. Somewhat like Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1995) — which I may have been too young to really appreciate at the time, though I adore the follow-up Before Sunset (2004) — it is one so wrapped up in itself, in the narcissism of its twentysomething protagonists, that I can quite believe it would entirely pass under the radar of anyone outside that peculiarly self-involved age. In this case, the two people at the centre of the film are Paul (Paul Schneider), a directionless small-town lothario, and Noel (Zooey Deschanel), the sister of his best friend who has just come back to town after many years away; their relationship with one another, in the context of their wider circle of friends, forms the narrative.

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