the fresh films reviews

S I N C E   1 9 9 7



Beautiful Girls (1996)

Ted Demme



Beautiful Girls

113 minutes

Cary Woods
Scott Rosenberg

Cast includes:

Tommy "Birdman" Rowland Matt Dillon
Michael "Mo" Morris Noah Emmerich
Tracy Stover Annabeth Gish ½
Darian Smalls Lauren Holly
Willie Conway Timothy Hutton
Gina Barrisano Rosie O'Donnell
Kev Max Perlich
Jan Martha Plimpton ½
Marty Natalie Portman ½
Paul Kirkwood Michael Rapaport
Sharon Cassidy Uma Thurman
Steve Rossmore Sam Robards -
Bobby Conway David Arquette



Here comes an inviting, life-affirming movie that not only offers a delightful slice of life, but also has enough artistic merit to lift itself out of the American small-town ethos it depicts (unlike some of the film's characters). As written by Scott Rosenberg and based on people and events in his own hometown, the script has an authenticity that cannot be credited to the film's superb cast alone; it's much more fundamentally rooted. Rosenberg's other credits include contrived crime yarn such as Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead and Con Air, but he's never touched upon something as real as he does here. And the film's posse of talented 20- and 30-something actors obviously revel in this opportunity to get in touch with and create real people, all with their own flaws and strengths, and none more "good" or "bad" than the other. In the lead, Timothy Hutton gives what is arguably his most sensitive performance since Ordinary People. He is surrounded by various friends, acquaintances, family members and love interests who make up a divergent group of characters. Some of them are more whimsical than others, but all of them are genuine at their core – something which makes you care and root for them, even when they do various stupid things. And they are a tight-knit bunch, too, despite the fact that they sometimes don't even like each other. small-town life will do that to you, claims Rosenberg and director Ted Demme, whose direction here is unobtrusive. He lets his characters breathe and he ensures his scenes remain dynamic, even when they touch upon controversial issues, such as in the wonderful segments between Hutton and Natalie Portman, the precocious, lolitasque girl next door. A character which in many ways represents a continuation of her Mathilda from Léon, and with whom the talented Portman impresses almost as much.

Copyright © 24.11.1997 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
(English version: © 31.03.2021 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang)