All the Real Girls (2003)

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Released 13-Apr-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Trailer-Gigli, I Capture The Castle
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 103:16
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Gordon Green
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Paul Schneider
Zooey Deschanel
Shea Whigham
Danny McBride
Maurice Compte
Heather McComb
Benjamin Mouton
John Kirkland
James Marshall Case
Patricia Clarkson
Maya Ling Pruitt
Eddie Rouse
Karey Williams
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Michael Linnen
David Wingo


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Watching All the Real Girls, the sophomore effort of rising directorial talent David Gordon Green I was reminded of what I find to be a puzzling and disappointing phenomenon in modern movie making. That is not to say that All the Real Girls is in any way disappointing. On the contrary, it is one of, if not the most natural, and therefore one of the most convincing films to deal with relationships between young adults I have ever seen. It takes a film such as this, or the outstanding You Can Count On Me before it to bring into sharp relief the perpetuation of utterly unrealistic, unconvincing, banal dialogue in the majority of films. I ask you to consider the last time a guy has stopped short while walking with his girlfriend and asked her, "Did you just fart?"  Now I can see, on the basis of my last sentence, the potential for people to equate my sense of humour with that of gutter minded junior high school boys but please bear with me. The reason I bring it up is that such a line, and countless others like it give us, the audience, the feeling that we are witness to the everyday lives of these people. It is quite extraordinary that in the film's relatively short running time we are introduced and come to know quite intimately a group of characters, flawed, contradictory, prone to making mistakes and feeling genuine emotions and we care about what happens to them. Much of the credit must go to the observant writing found in the screenplay, and Green's direction, which is both undemonstrative and interesting, a heinously difficult mix I would suggest. Without the work of some fantastic actors however, the film would not have approached the quality I believe it has.

    The story takes place in a small town in North Carolina. Green uses this common setting, which he obviously knows so well, to full advantage, creating a feeling of familiarity and community that serves as an entirely believable background to the film's major characters, who themselves feel authentic to their surroundings. The key relationship is between Paul (Paul Schneider) and Noel (Zooey Deschanel) whose conversations have the feeling of improvisation, of actual conversations between two people in a relationship. Paul is the serial womaniser in town, which isn't a problem for him or his best friend Tip (Shea Whigham) until Paul starts spending more and more time with Tip's younger sister Noel. She has not long returned from an all girls boarding school and is uncertain of herself, and seemingly an easy target for Paul. Their relationship evolves slowly and realistically. The director wisely distinguishes sex from intimacy, and deals with both frankly but with mature sensitivity. When a potentially damaging revelation is made by one of them the actors have given so much depth to their characters and the relationship that the consequences of it seem inevitable yet devoid of cliché.  There is no moralistic sermonizing or perfectly formed emotionally devastating barbs to be thrown. There are interruptions, coughs, splutters, inconsistencies, people taking breaths, struggling with what they are saying. It is how people speak in real life, which makes most films' inability to capture this authenticity all the more baffling to me. Also important, if perhaps a little too detached from the story are Paul's and Noel's families, who have their own insecurities, doubts and obstacles to deal with. I should point out that this film requires patience. The narrative does not cover a lot of ground in one sense, preferring instead to devote time to letting the audience form a greater understanding of the characters. This is a tremendous film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    How disappointing to find then that this transfer has butchered the original widescreen presentation and presented us with a barely adequate 1.33:1 aspect ratio, obviously not 16x9 enhanced. Tim Orr's commendable cinematography is ruined by the incorrect aspect ratio, as many potentially beautiful panoramic shots lose all sense of meaning thanks to skewed and incomplete composition.

    Sharpness levels and shadow detail are of an eminently acceptable standard, and tend towards excellence for much of the film. Occasionally the frame looked a little too soft and hazily defined, particularly at 97:25. Edge enhancement is not a problem.

    The colours are comfortable and relaxed. There is an earthiness to the palette that perfectly suits the setting in a quiet town. Skin tones are accurately presented and consistent looking. Blacks were always clear and clean. Low level noise was hardly noticeable.

    Compression artefacts were a little more of a problem, particularly affecting panning shots across trees and close ups of faces. See 62:45 for the worst example of this. Aliasing is minimal, aided by a comparatively still camera that lingers rather than darts around the place. Film artefacts are apparent on some occasions, some quite disconcerting ones later in the film, notably at 52:28.

    There are some instances of juddering but these are not a serious problem.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio is unremarkable but does its job well. The English Dolby Stereo 2.0 track is more than adequate for this quiet, dialogue driven film. For an Australian ear some of the the southern accents may be a little difficult to get a handle on, but the audio itself is clear. Audio sync is excellent, and I did not detect any audio glitches or dropouts.

    The surrounds provide a little music and even less ambience but I must confess that I was not particularly bothered by this. The use of a subwoofer in this track I believe would have been a disservice to the film and thus I am pleased to report that it remained silent during the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are two trailers, for the apparently awful Gigli and the apparently excellent I Capture the Castle. Both are presented without 16x9 enhancement and are of mediocre video quality.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    We have been seriously short changed on this occasion.

    Compared to the Region 1 release the Region 4 misses out on:

    It is disgraceful how this film has been released in Australia and I have no choice but to recommend the Region 1 in all instances.

Summary

    This is a fantastic film, realistic, touching and featuring some wonderful performances. One of last year's very best.

    The video presentation is unacceptable, in spite of a generally pleasing video quality. Original aspect ratios should in all instances be accurately reproduced.

    The audio transfer is fine, although the frequent use of music would have been well served by a more immersive surround track.

    The extras are barely worthy of the name, and have nothing at all to do with the film. Most disappointing considering the wealth of material available on the Region 1 release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Scott Murray (Dont read my bio - it's terrible.)
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S100, using Component output
DisplaySony 76cm Widescreen Trinitron TV. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DVR-S100 (built in)
SpeakersYamaha NX-S100S 5 speakers, Yamaha SW-S100 160W subwoofer

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