Film Review: 'All the Real Girls' not all that good

    When people go to the movies, they go because the movie looks interesting and worth the $8 to $10, especially with films that have a romantic flavor. So when the film goes from evocatively interesting to something that is tedious to behold, one wouldn’t be too happy.

    “”All the Real Girls,”” written and directed by David Gordon Green, is a story of how engaging and consequential relationships can be. The independent film begins on a poignant note when Paul (Paul Schneider) and Noel (Zooey Deschanel) first discover their love for one another and share a first kiss in a dark alley. Their moment in this opening scene is presented in an amazingly appealing manner, magnifying the magic of falling in love. In all its poignancy and anticipation of the first scene, the impression you initially get from “”All the Real Girls”” is without a doubt a positive one. It makes you crave for what is to come, to see what unfolds between Paul and Noel. Yet as the film progresses, the disappointment that results is all too great.

    Set in rural North Carolina, 22-year-old Paul pines for the innocent Noel, fresh out of an all-girl boarding school. Luckily enough, Noel emits a positive vibe to Paul, and love soon blossoms between the two. But the problem thus stands: Tip (Paul’s best friend and Noel’s brother) rejects their romance because he knows all about Paul’s promiscuous reputation. The plot continues to unfold as Paul, Noel, Tip and their surroundings interact with this complicated issue.

    A major problem in “”All the Real Girls”” is the lack of presence in the main characters. The situation between Paul and Noel isn’t adequately propelled into a level of interest within the movie, mainly because of the amateur nature of Schneider’s acting. His performance as Paul is overdone, and the essence of his character fades. He is the main character, yet the supporting actors seem to overpower him, such as his single mother (Patricia Clarkson), who works as a clown in a children’s hospital and faces the disheartening feeling of doing this for the rest of her life. In contrast to Schneider, however, the performance of Deschanel as Noel is both exceptional and convincing, notably during a woeful scene in which she narrates one of her deepest regrets from a boating accident.

    Moreover, the story is excessively simplistic — so simple that it enters the boundaries of boring. The entire plot mainly revolves around one thing: a seemingly favorable relationship that goes bad. The lackluster acting, rustic setting and tepid script are not enough to transform a simple story into an interesting one. People watch films like these to escape the overly mainstream material that is presented in theaters today, but to watch “”All the Real Girls”” pales in comparison to many independent films out there today, including “”Punch-Drunk Love,”” “”Bowling for Columbine”” and this year’s huge indie hit, “”My Big Fat Greek Wedding.””

    There are moments when “”All the Real Girls”” shows genuine potential, from the dreamy moments between Paul and Noel to the heartfelt realness of falling in love. But this is a romantic movie gone wrong, attempting to touch on something that could have worked while the pieces of the puzzle simply don’t fit.

    ‘All the Real Girls’

    ***

    Starring Paul Schneider and Zooey Deschanel

    In theaters Feb. 28

    Rated R

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