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All the Real Girls Has Honesty, But Too Many Fake Moments
Little Southern love can be so beautiful sometimes. Other times it just blows.
Paul (Paul Schneider) lives large in a small Southern town, where he’s made a sexual conquest of nearly every eligible female. Everyone, that is, except for his best friend’s sister, Noel (Zooey Deschanel), a committed virgin. When Paul falls unexpectedly for Noel, he swears he’s not out for sex and seeks to prove it to her with his actions. But Paul finds love much harder to manage than plain old-fashioned lust.
Writer and director David Gordon Green (Your Highness, Pineapple Express) is good here when it comes to showing beautiful images of this little town and then being able to transition that into the screenplay as well. There’s this underlying sense of hopelessness in all of these characters that shows well with the look of this film, as everybody seems like they just do what they have to do to get by without any real understanding of the world they live in.
My favorite parts of this film probably had to be when Gordon Green’s script started to dive into areas that would be totally cliche and annoying in a huge Hollywood production, but here actually feel brutally honest, which is something I always enjoy in a film. The film perfectly captures what it is to feel young love and how beautiful it really is, but then to also feel the pain that sometimes comes out of it. The conversations these two characters had, I felt were honest, and by the end you feel like a lot of what you just saw and heard was real love.
But the problem with this film is that when it’s not about the love these two feel, it’s about the other residents of this town, who aren’t very interesting. The film constantly jumps back and forth from this loving relationship that really had me interested, to these other people just sitting there and talking about things that are just really uninteresting, to be honest.
It also seemed like a lot of the things these people talked about was just the same type of topics such as pain, life-changing moments, and a life that they wish they didn’t have. Too much of this seemed repetitious and, once again, took away from the most interesting aspect from this film, the young love between Paul and Noel.
I also didn’t understand what the point was of having Patricia Clarkson here as Paul’s mom, because the moments these two have together seem forced and just included to kind of give Paul a little more depth because of the connection he has with his mommy. Not to say her performance is bad, because she’s very good in this role, she just seemed like her character was forced into this story.
Before she was everybody’s little blue-eyed hipster that we all know and love today, Zooey Deschanel actually got her first lead role here as Noel. She’s very good in her typical quirky performance, where she actually has not only the comedic chops to make you laugh but also the dramatic depth to have you believe that somebody could actually fall this head-over-heals for her. Paul Schneider is good as Paul (very original name). He has that devilish charm to him that makes you believe he can actually take any girl he meets to bed with him, but also that huge sense of insecurity that makes him get swept off his feet by this one special girl. Again, the scenes these two have are very good, and the chemistry is obvious; it’s just such a shame that the rest of the characters kind of took a lot away from this film. Also, be on the look-out for early performances from Danny McBride and Shea Whigham as Paul’s buddies.
Consensus: The brutally honesty of the script, believable performances from Deschanel and Schneider, and beautiful images that director David Gordon Green shows add a lot much more to All the Real Girls than most would expect from its very familiar premise, but the rest of the film kind of gets in the way of the love angle and started to seem annoying and forced.