Filmmakers have been obsessed with capturing the mood and spirit of innocent romance for years, and with the poetic, sad, and beautiful film All the Real Girls, director David Gordon Green tapped into the heartstrings of an inexperienced woman who is learning to love for the first time (Zooey Deschanel in her wonderful breakout performance) and an older lothario who just so happens to fall in love with the sister of his best friend (co-writer Paul Schneider playing the womanizer; the phenomenal Shea Wigham is his unstable, potentially dangerous best friend). This is a small-town movie with perfect, small-town flavor and ambiance, but it never skimps on big, dramatic moments or honest emotional fireworks. The complicated narrative dares to explore love and sex and friendship in a brutally honest fashion, while also delving into the double-standards that our society has ingrained in our psyches. Throw in hilarious support from Danny McBride in one of his first screen roles and customarily intense work from Patricia Clarkson and you’ve got the makings of something special and unique, and that’s exactly how you could describe this gentle little gem of a film.
David Gordon Green brought a Terrence Malick-esque visual quality to this film, and along with his trusted, long-time cinematographer Tim Orr, crafted a lyrical ode to blossoming sexuality and the limits of the heart via exquisitely framed compositions, naturalistic lighting, and an emphasis on long takes that heighten the dramatic mood at almost every turn. This is a film that I’ve never heard someone say that they hated, and it’s one that I feel will make people laugh, cry, and smile in equal measure. Anyone who has ever fallen in love, had their heartbroken, been excited by the possibilities of a new romantic partner, or been confused as to what they want in life will find this movie to be a potent summation of all of our fears, desires, and longings when it comes to finding that special someone. I’d really love it if The Criterion Collection or Kino Lorber or Olive could put out a much deserved Blu-ray special edition of this film. It warrants that type of film buff attention.