ALL THE REAL GIRLS tells the story of a womanizer named Paul (played by Paul Schneider), who falls in love with his best friend’s sister, Noel (played by Zooey Deschanel). Paul, for a change, not only really loves and respects Noel, he also doesn’t want to have sex with his best friend’s sister. “I don’t want it to be the way it was with other girls,” he says.
Noel is an 18-year-old virgin. Due to raging teenage hormones, she is convinced that she is ready to experience sex for the first time ever with Paul because, she says, “I trust you.”
Tip (Shea Whigham) is the best friend/brother. He has shared Paul’s sordid past and doesn’t trust his friend with his little sister. Paul tries to reassure Tip. He tells him, “She makes me decent.”
As Paul and Noel grow closer, he is more and more careful not to treat her like the others before her. He tells her, “I’ve made ugly mistakes, really ugly. You don’t understand what they hate when they see me.”
Noel knows of Paul’s past, but surely, like the other girls, believes that their relationship is different. She tells him, “If everything you’ve done before makes you who you are now, no matter how ugly it is, I am just going to have to deal with it because now it’s you and me. You are the best guy for me and I am the best girl for you.”
Noel, despite Paul trying to do the right thing for once, goes on a weekend trip with some friends and has sex with a stranger. When Paul finds out, he not only feels betrayed by Noel, but by life. How can she throw away all they’ve built when he took such great pains to make it all so. . . well, right?
Will Paul be able to forgive Noel for doing something that he has done with so many other women? Does Noel still love Paul after her first sexual experience?
David Gordon Green has written a solid story around simple people in a simple North Carolina mill town. He has taken care to make the conversations and events important without being spectacular. His characters are realistic to the point that it is almost like watching a documentary. One character even adds the detail that the local cotton mill has a sprinkler system that goes off every hour to keep fibers out of the air so the workers can breathe without choking. The cinematography is artful in showing the beauty of the surrounding country and the simplicity of a small industrial town.
That said, this movie might not please filmgoers who aren’t familiar with the easy pace and simply stated thoughts of people from a remote corner of the United States. For example, Paul’s uncle says, “I used to be the richest man in the world. Now I am sitting here, happier than I’ve ever been, with next to nothing.” While the events, attitudes and sexual antics are authentic, they are too raw for family audiences.
Media-wise parents should accept the challenge of discussing (if necessary) – with their more mature teenagers – what happened between Paul and Noel emotionally when she had sex with another man. The discussion may center on the fact that there are more than physical dangers to sex, such as pregnancy, STDs and abortion. There are also emotional penalties that must be paid: Noel made Paul feel what many of his past sexual liaisons must have felt because of his own callous indiscretions.
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SUMMARY: ALL THE REAL GIRLS, now available on video, is about a womanizing man from rural North Carolina who has fallen in love with his best friend’s virgin sister, so he tries to do the right thing for a change. While the writing and cinematography give it an almost documentary-like feel, the artsy pace and the subject matter will make this video prohibitive to most media-wise families.
(H, B, LLL, VV, SS, NN, VV, AA, D, M) Fatalistic humanist worldview where people are born into a certain place and lifestyle and don’t really move away from it, with some moral discussion about rebuking a promiscuous sexual lifestyle and about the vanity of material wealth; 21 “f” words, six light obscenities, one strong profanity, one light profanity, crude talk of body hair and passing gas, and man shown urinating from behind at distance in shadows; man’s bare butt seen in shadows from distance, woman in bra, glimpse of man’s genitals as girl yanks at his underwear, and upper male nudity; scene of passionate kissing, couple seen fornicating are obviously nude under covers with waist up shot of man moving over the woman, man reminisces of being with two women at once, man tells of girlfriend’s pregnancy; woman slaps son’s face twice, men get in fisticuffs (kicking ribs, choking, bloody nose, punching), and man punches out window and breaks his hand; men drink beer and drinking and drunk men sit around talking of past; smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality such as cheating on one’s romantic partner.