A review of “All The Real Girls” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: **

Rating: R for language, nudity

Run Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

 

 

This contemporary, pretentious love story (by the director of the equally pretentious “George Washington”) wallows in high-fallutin’ indie-ness while catering to self-indulgent reality.

A guileless performance by the talented Zooey Deschanel can’t raise “Girls” up from its low-budget, mill town roots.  Eighteen-year-old Noel (Deschanel) is fresh home from boarding school, and fast falling in love with her older brother’s best friend Paul (Paul Schneider).  The rub is that Paul has bedded virtually every babe in their small, North Carolina burg, and big brother is having none of it. 

Forced to prove that this is the real thing rather than a perpetual case of rampant lust, Paul seeks earthly wisdom from his financially strapped mom (Patricia Clarkson), his humorless Uncle Leland (Benjamin Mouton), and ultimately the depths of his pitiful little soul.  But hey, the path of True Love can be strewn with stones, as Paul and the virginal Noel find out the hard way.  

With beer-guzzling, craps-shooting, moniker-challenged buddies at your side (meet Tip, Bo and Bust Ass), who needs love? The ebb and flow of complicated feelings, plus a handful of genuine moments reflecting honesty and expectation, is lost in a muddle of non-linear, saccharine-sticky, slice-of life vignettes.  Abstract symbolism in the form of three-legged dogs and rusted auto graveyards serve to heighten the affected film fest aura.     Courting rituals of the dumb and dumber beget exasperation, while the improvisational script bends over backwards to provoke (repeat after me in a sloooow Southern drawl: “I had a dream that you grew a garden on a trampoline, and I was so happy that I invented peanut butter”).  North Carolina offers a dully pretty, backwoods backdrop for illiterate losers and lovers alike.