Directed by: David Gordon Green
Starring: Paul Schneider, Zooey Deschanel, Shea Whigham
Paul is what you’d call a womanizer. In a small, rural southern town much like the one Paul lives in, a title like that will most likely get you recognized as such by just about everybody that counts. Having lived his entire life based on these principles of lust and just having a good time, things become increasingly complicated when Paul begins to fall for Noel, an unassuming virgin that just so happens to be his best friend Tip’s younger sister. When Tip learns of this treachery, his friendship with Paul inevitably hits the rocks, all while Paul continually struggles to overcome his womanizing ways and experience true love for the first time in his life.
All the Real Girls is a perfect example of how the quality of a film will inevitably suffer on the basis of the ungodly amount of clichés it chooses to embrace. In terms of this particular script, we’re introduced to everything rebellious youths residing in the South are supposedly very fond of, i.e. beer, automobiles, stock car racing, more beer, and sleeping around because, well, there’s just nothing better to do. Everyone also speaks with a very affected, almost laughable southern drawl, of which seems to take away from the insight the film has pertaining to themes of love, lust, and the conflict these ideas can bring about.
Southern stereotypes aside, the film really does provide us with an excellent sense of authenticity present within the predicaments each of the central characters find themselves in as a result of their budding relationship, including the genuine interaction that takes place between them at countless points throughout the film’s narrative. Furthermore, the characters are fleshed out surprisingly well despite the obvious podunk nature of their very existence, and Schneider’s character Paul possesses a hefty (to say the least) amount of flaws that manage to pave the way for many a moment showcasing both severe intrinsic and extrinsic conflict. As for Deschanel’s Noel, I found it somewhat difficult to appreciate everything her character had to offer that didn’t directly affect Paul in the long run, seeing as how her behavior becomes so erratic and just plain ridiculous that it’s more or less impossible to find her at all likable by the film’s end.
As for the cast, Schneider manages to be quite impressive as Paul, despite the aforementioned ghastly affect his accent has on each and every verbal exchange he has with his comrades. Thankfully, he and Deschanel exhibit some palpable chemistry and interact just as well with the supporting cast. This in mind, a substantial amount of comic relief resides within the often hilarious efforts of Danny McBride and his character Bust-Ass’s nitwit demeanor, of which is most definitely a welcome departure from the film’s more depressing moments.
To sum it all up, All the Real Girls really does offer some great insight behind the ideas of lust, love, and what can come of them in terms of the strain they can easily put on the relationships with those we love the most. Despite a ghastly amount of southern clichés, David Gordon Green’s indie drama manages not to hit too many sour notes and remains enjoyable thanks to a swell cast and a thoroughly enjoyable air of authenticity surrounding its more poignant sequences. If you’re a little more than turned off by the weak points I’ve outlined however, ye be warned: films like this surely aren’t for everyone.