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Beautiful Girls (1996)
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Review Date: August 24, 1998
Director: Ted Demme
Writer: Scott Rosenberg
Producers: Cary Woods
Actors:
Timothy Hutton
Natalie Portman
Matt Dillon
Uma Thurman
Mira Sorvino
Lauren Holly
Plot:
Willie (Hutton) returns to his childhood hometown when confronted with a question mark as to the destination of his relationship with lawyer-girlfriend Traci, and his piano-playing career. Once in town, Willie mingles with all of his friends of old, who are also caught up in various levels of commitment, and positions his glad-eye on one particular thirteen-year old girl living next door. Twenty-somethings confused about their place in life, their relationships, and the world, is the basis of this human dramedy.
Critique:
Richly penned script, strong acting performances, elegant cinematography and a solid soundtrack, rate this film as one of the best of its reflective kind. Solid character driven story in the spirit of DINER (7/10) that simmers through the sorted lives of several twenty-somethings caught up in a small town and various stages of emotional and intellectual development. This movie lingers in nostalgia, while simultaneously delivering several poignant points of view from the grab-bag of interesting characters growing up amongst one another this scanty little blue-collar town (Many of whom were personally identifiable as well.)

Timothy Hutton shines as the pillar within the group of misguided "adults" still caught up in their own adolescence, while Natalie Portman delivers the most dead-on performance as the witty, charming, and in my humble opinion, overly-literate 13-year old that you've ever seen. I love the script in all other regards, but a couple of the overly pretentious lines delivered by some of the characters (generally Portman), prevented me from completely falling for this film which touches most bases of relationships, and the fears of commitment. Why do we always seem to think that there may be someone better for us out there? Why can we not appreciate the people in our lives until it's too late?

This movie does not have all the answers, but it does offer many interesting observations, several classic scenes and funny moments, and a solid cast of colorful characters interesting enough to keep you engaged throughout its entire close to two-hour run. I also liked the fact that the ending did not close or open all doors, and instead, left you with a mixed sense of melancholic hope. Admittedly, not everyone will be as interested in this film as I was. I am in my twenty-somethings, and felt extremely in tune with most of the characters' thoughts, feelings and trepidations. You might not. Then again, if you've ever had a moment in your life when you felt like you could "do better" than the person with whom you were presently engaged, this movie is certainly one that'll further appetize your food for ample thought. This film may have been a small movie set in a small town, but its characters are earnest, its dialogue is smart and witty, and most of all, its heart is anything but small.
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian
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