All The Real Girls
David Gordon Green's follow-up to George Washington, a promising 2000 debut enacted by a primarily preteen cast, earnestly tackles a subject matter difficult to nail without succumbing to sappiness: first love. Paul (Paul Schneider, who inhabited the most charismatic adult role in George Washington) has genuinely fallen for Noel (Zooey Deschanel), the sheltered younger sister of his best friend, Tip (Shea Whigham). Tip reacts violently to their union, as he and Paul share well-deserved reputations as their small North Carolina town's most notorious womanizers. But Paul and Noel find a greater obstacle in transforming their initial flush of giddy wonder into a stable, meaningful relationship. Green and Schneider, who collaborated on this story, exhibit near-total recall for the ephemeral details of the emotional landscape of young adulthood, equally provoking warm glows and uncomfortable squirms of recognition. All the Real Girls fumbles a few times--Green has yet to outgrow minor tendencies toward visual contrivances and patches of overwritten philosophical dialogue--but most of the time hits its marks with simple, direct profundity. A vibrant, visually pleasing film with charming lead performances and a lot of human insight.