All The Real Girls is a film that has characters who are unable to express themselves, yet have a longing to do so. It’s about a longing that is just out of reach, and confusing. One might even say these same things about the film itself. Now I wouldn’t be one of those, but I wouldn’t argue with those that feel that way. I’m attracted to films like this, that have above all else a definite pace and feel. And I hate to see these films end.
Paul (Paul Schneider) lives with his mother (Patricia Clarkson) and helps fix cars with his Uncle Leland. There are no horizons for Paul, just an extension of his life day upon day. Same as it ever was. Paul his something of a reputation in the small mill town as having bedded every girl available. These relationships are all shot term and he has an uneasy feeling that he’s missing out on something. This feeling, like most in the film, are never expressed, except obliquely, with a look or with an odd observation. When his best friend’s teenage sister Noel (Zooey Deschanel) comes back from boarding school, things begin to change. Paul senses he can right all the wrongs of his life. This puts a little pressure on Noel and she betrays him over a weekend that she goes away. She doesn’t know why and can’t explain it. The scene between Noel and Paul when she tells him is maybe the only one in the film that seemed overblown, underscripted, and overacted.
The cinematography is stunning, the music is in tune with the film and the acting nearly always perfect. I loved the last scene in the film where Paul is standing in waist deep water with his dog in a boat trying to coax him out in order to learn how to swim. There are several scenes like this that have a certain poetic honesty.
Festival winners: Patricia Clarkson and Director David Gordon Greene at Sundance, Zooey Deschanel at Mar Del Plata,