Movies Like The Exploding Girl


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The Exploding Girl Reviews

Page 1 of 5
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

March 20, 2013
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.

Super Reviewer

November 27, 2011
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.

Super Reviewer

March 21, 2010
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.
February 15, 2010
A quiet film, but in all the right ways. There's so much unspoken but it only heightens the desired effect. Really, really a special picture.
May 20, 2011
Bad bad title. A whole point off for titling and packaging this film wrong. This film is not about an "exploding" girl. It is a thoughtful, sweet, slice of life about a very self controlled girl who manages difficult emotions with mature restraint. The cover explains her restraint as a struggle to ward off epileptic siezures. I'm in favor of my interpretation: the completely believable character we see is who she is: a smart, mature college student coping admirably with life. The film is a small film showing a small moment in time of a character engaging enough to make us care.
February 3, 2010
When twenty-year-old Ivy heads home Spring Break with a fresh romance in her heart, everything seems to be going perfectly. When her best friend Al finds himself without lodgings, Ivy and her mother take him in and Ivy and Al's friendship strengthens while her boyfriend grows more distant from afar. Increasingly distressed about her conflicting feelings, Ivy must stay resilient in the face of her epilepsy, lest her emotions become something she can't control. Marking Zoe Kazan's first leading role, Bradley Rust Gray's film is a meditative and realistic portrait of a young girl coming of age and finding a deeper kind of love in New York City.
February 10, 2010
When twenty-year-old Ivy heads home Spring Break with a fresh romance in her heart, everything seems to be going perfectly. When her best friend Al finds himself without lodgings, Ivy and her mother take him in and Ivy and Al's friendship strengthens while her boyfriend grows more distant from afar. Increasingly distressed about her conflicting feelings, Ivy must stay resilient in the face of her epilepsy, lest her emotions become something she can't control. Marking Zoe Kazan's first leading role, Bradley Rust Gray's film is a meditative and realistic portrait of a young girl coming of age and finding a deeper kind of love in New York City.
March 17, 2010
a realistic portrait of a young girl coming of age in New York City. Zoe Kazan is great and won best actress at The Tribeca Film Festival
August 30, 2013
March 4, 2012
Like its titular character, The Exploding Girl is simple and sweet and familiar. At first I found its pondering pace to be tiresome. Slowly however, the good natured sincerity of the movie worked its way into my heart.
November 17, 2011
If it is something really really really slow that you wanna watch this is it. It isn't a bad movie honestly but it is just really really really slow
October 9, 2011
Switch into your calm zone and enjoy this quiet gem. It's attempt at being an honest, truthful, realistic love story hits very near the mark. Ivy (Zoe Kazan) is epileptic, thus, the somewhat misleading title, and a source of suspense. When I picked up the film the first thing the title reminded me of was the line from Repo Man "It happens you know...people just explode." Still that part of the story is skillfully underplayed, it is an undercurrent in Ivy's life. She can't drive, she needs to have someone around to take a bath, she has to visit doctors for blood
tests and the like, but she does not let it define her or get in her way. Al (Mark Rendall) is a long time neighborhood friend who also rode home from the college together. Soon he learns his parents had rented out his room, with no where to turn, he stayed the summer with Ivy and her mom.
Director Gray let's the cameras roll and we watch Ivy endure heartache as her old relationship dissolves via cell phone conversations. The plot is predictable. Ivy and Al slowly spend the summertime together and inevitably realize they are happiest when they are together. The leisurely pace of this film reminded me of "The Way Home", "Ghost World" and "Lost in Translation", all films that allow rich truths to blossom in one stark plot and "geologic" movie time. It winds up being warm and sincere and real.
February 15, 2011
decent indie minimalism. completely character driven piece lead by rather uninteresting characters. understated, for sure. nonetheless, it was well done considering the restraints. not the best minimalist cinema, but not the worse, either.
January 15, 2011
This is one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen. This movie shows you so much emotion by showing you very little. It gives you real characters, real situations, and a real story. You can't help but feel like you're standing there with Kazan's character amongst all the new york traffic and taste her every thought. By the end, I was almost in tears as I could really feel what the characters were going through. The final few scenes will leave you breathless. This is brilliantly shot, brilliantly acted and a beautifully told story. Bravo!
December 23, 2010
Not the best mumblecore around but still a good enough and pretty heartbreaking film buoyed by the charming performance of the angelic Zoe Kazan.
October 10, 2010
a haunting coming of age movie. must watch gem of a movie!
November 5, 2010
I fucking loved this movie. Brilliant pace, beautiful cinematography and a really sweet, realistic feeling story.
July 16, 2010
THE EXPLODING GIRL is a delightfully poignant, deftly-paced, often lyrical dramatic piece and character study. It's the kind of dialogue-based indie film that can't ever be boring, due in large part to its staggering honesty and realistic nature. Some of the reviews will give people the impression that THE EXPLODING GIRL is a chore to get through. What I can say is that that will only be the case for people whose eyes glaze over during emotion-driven, intelligent dramas and who need something simpler to watch. Then again, if you're one of those people, you're probably not reading this, so I'm writing for what I hope is a majority of people who can appreciate this type of film.

Ivy (Zoe Kazan) is returning home, as she's now on break from college. The first thing she does when she arrives is meet up with her best friend, Al (Mark Rendall). They were friends all through school, but they've each gone to a different college, so they only get to see each other when they're home on break. We can tell that this one of those relationships in which a guy and a girl are best friends and totally comfortable with talking to each other, but (of course), there's an underlying, awkward fidgetiness going on that gives one the impression that there may be something more going on here. They don't reveal it to each other, of course, but their eyes quickly reveal it to the audience members. To Al's dismay (but not to ours), his parents rented out his room while he was in college, so now Al doesn't have a place to stay, so of course, Ivy invites him to stay at her place during break. It's only natural, obviously, since they are best friends. This will all make any reasonable moviegoer expect that a few contrivances will happen and soon Ivy will dump her college boyfriend, realize her feelings for Al, and they'll stay together. But no... we get something much more authentic (and hence, much better) in THE EXPLODING GIRL.

This is an incredibly tender movie. The character of Al is developed scrupulously well. He likes to hang out with friends and smoke weed and have fun, but he cares deeply about Ivy, who is a tad more socially awkward. There's a particularly great scene in which Al is lying on a bed in between Ivy and this other girl (with whom he has all the chances in the world to hook up), but he decides to go home with Ivy. And it is NOT one of those "Oh, pfft, that would never happen in real life" moments in movies; the moment is handled in such a sullen and subtle way that we more than believe Al's decision. We don't know for sure if he's in love with Ivy, but there's never any doubt that he cares for her enormously. There's another incredibly well-executed moment in which Al tells Ivy about this girl he's in class with whom he has a crush on. As Ivy and Al talk to each other, the film does a brilliant job at blurring the line between the friendship that these two have and potential romantic feelings that they're keeping bottled up inside.

A lot of the film's running time is dedicated to Ivy's phone conversations with her boyfriend, during which we never SEE her boyfriend (we only hear his voice). This would be a bad idea if it weren't for the fact that it's all staged so amazingly well. Zoe Kazan's reactions during these phone talks are pitch-perfect. A lot of the conversations happen while Ivy is walking on the streets, so there's a constant sense that things are moving forward. And the guy who does the voice of Greg (Ivy's boyfriend) does a terrific job at conveying apprehension. My only problem is with a pivotal moment early on in the film during which Greg tells Ivy that he's had a car accident. I don't have an issue with Kazan's performance when she reacts to this; I just have a problem with the lines that she's forced to deliver, because they are the exact conventional lines that we hear in every movie (and TV show) when someone's been in an accident. Normally, that wouldn't bother me too much, but it does when we're dealing with a movie that thrives on realistic dialogue. But that's merely a nitpick because, to be honest, EVERYTHING else about these phone conversations is handled remarkably well.

The other small flaw to be found in THE EXPLODING GIRL comes towards the end of the film, during an over-extended scene in which Al and Ivy are sitting together, and we get an unnecessary amount of shots of birds flying during a sunset. It's fine if this was meant to be symbolic of something or other, but it's not fine that the shots feel self-indulgent and that they go on for so long. Thankfully, the film's very last scene goes back to the languid tenderness that we had gotten used to throughout the movie and that I thoroughly loved. All I'll say about the last scene is that it's an understated moment in a car, and that it involves hands. It is expertly shot, brings solid emotional heft to the film's coda, and it leaves the ending open to interpretation, which is often a great decision on a filmmaker's part.

THE EXPLODING GIRL is an uncommonly observant piece of indie filmmaking that accurately captures the turbulent confusion that one can experience when going back-and-forth from life in the college environment to life back home. The film recognizes that the idea of leaving people behind and then picking things up where they left off isn't quite so black-and-white, and the emotional turmoil that can come from that type of situation emerges profusely during the interactions between Al and Ivy.
Billy T.
May 27, 2010
For people like me, this film perfectly captures a moment that we've all been through, our viewing experience fueled by nostalgia or the painful curiosity to relive that time. The film is about Ivy, a college student who is on her summer vacation at home. Staying at her house is her high school friend Al. Ivy tries to maintain a long-distance relationship with her college boyfriend while also making sure her friendship with Al doesn't turn into something too complicated. As a film that is all about capturing the essence of a teenage/young adult romance, this film succeeds. But for me, as I was watching it, I was questioning whether or not I wanted to witness this. The film offers no insights, alternatives, or solutions of young heartbreak but is merely a snapshot of what it is. So it depends on what you like; if you want something more, than this isn't really for you, but if you want to observe the real state of most college students on vacation, check out this flick.
May 15, 2010
The Exploding Girl is only fooling itself (and 75% of the critics, apparently) with its ridiculously indie pretense. It acts like it has something to say through its long stretches of silence, improvised dialogue, and static long takes, but it really doesn't. It feels like you're stalking a really uninteresting girl. There's little drama, excitement, or anything of interest, despite fine performances from Zoe Kazan and Mark Rendall (fine here constitutes doing nothing well and occasionally showing a glimmer of magnetic chemistry). Way too pretentious and dull to be worth anything, in the end. The most disappointed I've ever been by a film, because I've never seen such a discrepancy between the quality of the trailer and the final film.
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