George Washington Reviews
"down this twisted road, please watch over my soul and lift me up so gently so as not to touch the ground."
David Gordon Green's debut feature, George Washington, is immensely different from the films he's been putting out for the last few years. He's been putting out stoner, sex comedies like Pineapple Express, Your Highness, and The Sitter. George Washington couldn't be less like those movies. It is as far away from comedy as you can be. It's a slow and sad film from a child, Nasia's, point of view. She narrates the story of George, and how he and a couple of friends accidentally killed their friend Buddy. From that point on, these kids aren't really kids any more. The innocence of childhood has left them.
If you want poignant storytelling, George Washington is your film. It's a movie where you can feel for a character, that something awful has happened to. George isn't a bad, rebellious youth, as a lot of these types of films use. He's a good kid, who is in a poor area, around other poor kids. He has a disease that doesn't allow him to get his head wet, and a little bump on the head could kill him. He's limited in what he can do with his friends.
You can feel the scene where everything turns about five minutes before it happens. When the scene is occurring, you know this is where the tragedy is going to occur. David Gordon Green does the tragic scene the realistic and proper way. Stuff like this doesn't occur like it does in most movies. There's no suspenseful music before hand, there's no slow motion while it's going on, there's no crazy freakout rant afterwards. When a tragic event occurs, you are stunned, and you do what these kids do. You sit down on the ground and stare, until one of you can get up the courage to make a decision what to do next.
I can best describe this Indie movie, by saying it resembles the same feel of a Gus Van Sant indie. There's a bunch of no name actors, that don't really try to act. They perform like real people. They occasionally will make mistakes when they talk and stutter over words, trying to find the right thing to say. Gus Van Sant did Paranoid Park like six or seven years after this, and the two are quite alike. Paranoid Park went a different route in the aftermath of the accident, but the lead up is a lot alike.
George Washington isn't a film that is for everyone. You may end up finding it too slow or too boring. You may feel that it doesn't quite go anywhere plot wise. But if you like understated, subtle dramas, give it a watch. It just may blow you away.
Look, David Gordon Green either has a lot of happy accidents in this film or he has a natural eye. You're in one of two camps. I'm in the latter. Though, this movie is sort of unrealistic and has an unsatisfying ending.
Many compare the filmmaking here to Terrence Malick, which makes sense, but a movie it really reminds me of is Peter Bogdanovich?s The Last Picture Show. Like that film there is a certain hopelessness at the film?s center, a feeling that there?s not much of a future for these children caught in the poor side of a small North Carolina town. Unlike the Bogdanovich film, these kids aren?t old enough to know this, which is why the film is a lot more subtle about this fact, but later in the film this begins to dawn on some of them.
The fact is, twelve year olds don?t interest me much, which is why I wasn?t impressed by this at first. Truth be told, I didn?t really love it this time either, but unlike my first viewing I do respect the film now and see that my lack of enthusiasm has less to do with the quality of Green?s work and more to do with my own interests. I still don?t love this film, but I do now have a deep respect for the work and can?t wait to see what Green can do with subjects that interest me more.
"While wandering around with his rag-tag band of mates, one boy gets inadvertently killed. Fearing parental retribution, the gang hides the body. Later, matters comes to a head when guilt and anxiety starts to take its toll."
None of this had happened by the time 1/3 of the film was over. Watching this movie is like being given a homework assignment that's a combination of Terrence Malick and Harmony Korine. If that sounds like your jam, you may like this film.
For a distant, small-town with an appearance that nature is taking its land back, it looks oddly glamorous. In the same way that The Wonder Years looked like to its fans. It fills a void and answers a question of how important a suburban neighborhood (in the word) is to society. Whether large, small, rich, poor, fake, hopeful.. it's a natural constant in most lives outside not even of big city life itself.
I'd love to talk about how the plot naturally unfolds but I shouldn't. I can say plot isn't what matters, but how the characters respond and it works from there magnificently. For a movie thriving in empathy, the dialogue pushes and pulls with a soothing grace rather than an irritating one. And, damn it, it's not all about a boring town and how everyone goes about the same routine day to day struggling with finding something worthwhile. It's about what's worthwhile in life, noticing it, and actually giving it a chance. Even if that something is too small to notice.
Now, I'm gonna watch a comedy so I don't cry myself to sleep.
That was a joke.