All the Real Girls (David Gordon Green, USA, 2003)
At its heart, All the Real Girls is a film of moments, in all their shambling, awkward, unironic glory. It is basically a love story, between two young people in a small North Carolina town, Paul (Paul Schneider) and Noel (Zooey Deschanel). Green and his actors handle this relationship with all the idealistic ideals and uncertain nature that young people in love have. The film is a subtle examination of moments, of conversation, of the emotions of Noel, who is fairly inexperienced in relationships and Paul, who is quite the opposite. The dialogue between the two is often awkward, vulnerable yet profound in its portrayal the idealism these two have in each other. These moments don't make up a straightforward narrative and it would be easy for the film to derail into insufferable muck. Green makes the difference here as his lyrical style, very reminiscent of early 70s New Hollywood, makes the difference. Working with fantastic cinematography by Tim Orr, the lyricism and talent in Green's images are a perfect compliment to tie these moments together. His minimalist style let the dialogue and the emotion present in the characters linger over the screen, permeating the film with its romantic view. It's an almost perfect execution with style and substance. This may be the best looking film of the decade. Green, Schneider, and Deschanel deserve a lot of credit in this age of irony and cynicism for crafting a heartfelt romantic film that is messy, as it often is in real life. They should also be given a lot of credit for making a cynical ass like me like it.