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The Exploding Girl (2010)



Average Rating: 6.6/10
Reviews Counted: 35
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 9

Its languid pace and willfully understated narrative may test the patience of some viewers, but Bradley Rust Gray's gentle direction and a gripping performance from Zoe Kazan lend The Exploding Girl an appealing, melancholy beauty.


Average Rating: 7.1/10
Critic Reviews: 14
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 2

Its languid pace and willfully understated narrative may test the patience of some viewers, but Bradley Rust Gray's gentle direction and a gripping performance from Zoe Kazan lend The Exploding Girl an appealing, melancholy beauty.



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Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 1,004

My Rating

Movie Info

Cherubic college student Ivy is at home in Brooklyn for spring break with her longtime guy pal Al in tow. As her relationship with her boyfriend falls apart, Al's friendship is cast in a new light.


Documentary, Drama

Bradley Rust Gray

Jul 1, 2010

Ocscilloscope Pictures

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All Critics (36) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (9) | DVD (1)

The Exploding Girl is a film about the deceptiveness of surfaces, and it takes place in a small town that you eventually realize with a start is actually New York City.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Exploding Girl is a character study of one young woman - and of an entire generation struggling to maintain external maturity despite internal regression.

April 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sometimes a carefully placed pinprick can stay with you longer than a heavier, clumsier blow, and so it is with Bradley Rust Gray's delicately done but indelible The Exploding Girl.

April 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A Zen-like experience of watchful compassion in deliberately challenging circumstances: trying to see and hear, without leaping to conclusions, the gathering troubles of a young woman living in hectic circles and with increasing self-absorption.

April 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Viewers willing to slow down their cinematic metabolism enough to watch The Exploding Girl at its own pace will find their patience rewarded by moments of great beauty...

March 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gray has an artful, understated way of conveying what's going 
on inside, often simply by focusing his camera on Kazan. And the actress has a unique capacity for projecting the complexity of feminine stillness.

March 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...a mildly watchable showcase for Kazan's undeniably impressive performance.

November 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Bradley Rust Gray's film of a young college student (Zoe Kazan) home for the summer is a portrait in interlude.

September 11, 2010 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

Kazan has a power of her own that is as strong as or stronger than the film's style, and she can carry a scene all by herself, even if the camera is merely watching her walk down the street.

September 10, 2010 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Kazan has a gift for letting you see her think, even when she's perfectly still; the film's title refers to the ferocious trauma happening between Ivy's ears and her silent struggle to keep it in check.

May 20, 2010 Full Review Source: Oregonian

Restless audiences may itch for more plot, for the kind of fiery dramatics that typify young love in the movies, but hold the explosives: There's tender drama, too, in the possibilities of a hand-hold.

May 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

"The Exploding Girl" can be grouped with those dreaded "mumblecore" movies in which young people talk endlessly about their romantic entanglements and attend terrible parties.

May 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Herald
Boston Herald

At least director Bradley Rust Grey contains all this diverting dithering in 80 minutes -- even without an explosion, there's intrigue in watching a short fuse burn.

May 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

This is a mature story about the lives of two young people (and one voice) that kept my attention from start to finish.

April 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

...a lovely, languorous film that does much with little and leaves you feeling like you've witnessed some minor miracle.

April 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Gray's limpid compositions draw plangent stillness from urban darkness, counterpointing but not unbalancing his actors' understated naturalism.

April 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Philadelphia City Paper
Philadelphia City Paper

The Exploding Girl isn't a particularly plot driven film, but it has momentum, an undercurrent that tugs you along.

April 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Insiders
Entertainment Insiders

Sit with it a while %u2014 which isn't hard when you're watching Kazan. The cumulative effect is powerful. You begin to feel for her even though you haven't even met.

March 31, 2010 Full Review Source: Moving Pictures Magazine
Moving Pictures Magazine

Indie down to its core , this dreary film fails to engage on many levels. The camera work is nice though, particularly when it's focused on pigeons.

March 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Back Stage
Back Stage

As a feature, it's slight; as a mood sustained by Kazan and Gray, it's impressive and occasionally spellbinding.

March 18, 2010 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for The Exploding Girl

The two things I remember about this movie:

1) The main character has epilepsy but that's not the point of the story. Both of the stars I gave the film are for the refreshing normalcy with which a "disabled" character is portrayed.

2) It's otherwise a movie about people not answering their cell phones when you want them to, providing a blow-by-blow account of nothing happening.
August 17, 2013

Super Reviewer

A epileptic woman in a fizzling relationship considers romance with her longtime platonic friend.
There are such long moments of silence in this film, the camera trained on Zoe Kazan's often impassive face through much of it, that it is easy to lose interest in the story and characters.
As I watched the film, I thought that all of this must have happened to the writer or director, and he thought it was terribly compelling at the time and would've made a good film, but sometimes such personal stories don't translate. So much is built on silence, and sometimes I thought that whatever they were trying to communicate slipped through the cracks of understanding.
Overall, I think this is a film you either love or hate, either connect with or don't, and I found myself checking my watch instead of propelled by the character's journey.
November 27, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

In "The Exploding Girl," Ivy(Zoe Kazan) gets a ride from a college friend(Hunter Canning) and they collect her childhood friend Al(Mark Rendall) along the way to return home to New York City during spring break when it is very warm.(I know. I know. It was 70 degrees in the city yesterday and there was a long line at the smoothie shop. Still.) They are so close that they finish each other's pizza and it is no problem for Zoe to let Al sleep on her couch when he returns to find his room rented out.(Ouch.) They hang out, go to parties and in between, Ivy tries to get in touch with her boyfriend Greg(Franklin Pipp) which is hit and miss at best.(Technology has vastly improved but communication has not.) At the same time, Al is flirtatious and playing the field but has at least decided upon studying science.(And I really liked the Tesla references, by the way.) All is not fun and games as Ivy also goes to the doctor for a checkup for her epilepsy and luckily she has not had a seizure since November.

"The Exploding Girl" is a naturalistic study of two characters sorting out their lives as neither Al nor Ivy have gotten to the point where they have made a clear break from high school friends to college. Of course, this does not happen the same way for all people and some remain friends for life, no matter what changes occur in their lives. The camera is held at an unobtrusive distance, giving the viewer a pedestrian's view of New York City which allows us to clearly observe the characters, seeing details about them that they themselves don't notice. And there are two fabulous shots that break with this, one on a rooftop late and a closeup of Ivy's face that closes the film.
March 21, 2010
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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