Timothy Hutton
Matt Dillon
Michael Rapaport
Noah Emmerich
Lauren Holly
Natalie Portman
Mira Sorvino
Uma Thurman
Rosie O'Donnell
Martha Plimpton
Max Perlich

Ted Demme



Time: 112 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Comedy/Romance/Drama

In this lovely ensemble piece, Demme truly captures the angst and resignation that affects most young people upon the realization that they actually do have to grow up. Hutton stars as Willie, a struggling musician who returns home to attend his 10-year high school reunion. His buddies – played by Dillon, Rappaport, Emmerich, Perlich and Vince – are pretty much living the same lives as when he left – plowing snow and losing in love. Willie is the successful one, the only one supposedly living out his dreams. His presence breaks up the monotony of their fairly uneventful lives and gives them hope of better things. The only problem is that Willie knows he's living the same futureless existence, just hundreds of miles away. All seem content to live with past glory, rather than grasp at an unknown future where they may continue to degrade into further obscurity.

The women in their lives are saddled with the odious chore of waiting and hoping for them to accept their adulthood. Well, most of them anyway. Holly plays Darian, Tommy's (Dillon) high school sweetheart who married for money, but continues to get her rocks off with her old boyfriend. Tommy's firm grasp on the past is just fine with her. However, his lack of commitment and straying heart plagues his long-suffering girlfriend Sharon (Sorvino), who's getting way too old to stand for his indecision much longer. If he doesn't decide soon between his past and his future, she's going to make the choice for him. Paul (Rappaport) only wants Jan (Plimpton) when he can't have her, yet punishes her when she refuses to wait for him to settle down.

Willie loves Tracy (Gish), a smart, pretty, fun gal, yet is still waiting for something better to come along. Meeting the bright, charming, 13-year-old Marty (Portman) makes him think twice about his relationship. Despite each of them entertaining fantasies of a future together – once Marty's out of high school – their fast friendship instead makes Willie aware of how good he has it. Which doesn't stop him from making a pass at Andera (Thurman), a clearly gorgeous girl in town visiting her cousin.

"You've come back here to the house of loneliness and tears, to Daddy Downer and Brother Bummer, to come to some sort of decision about life, a life decision if you will."

In fact, all the guys try to score with her, which she takes as the compliment it is. However, none of them has a chance. You see, she's got a man at home who suits her just fine. What starts out as fun quickly goes haywire as everyone struggles to find the one thing that will ultimately make them happy. Of course, not everyone discovers what they're looking for. Some of them move forward, some back, and a few stay happily right where they were.

GIRLS is a film that gets better with every viewing. I remember initially leaving the theater somewhat bemused by all the strum and drang. Now that I'm a bit older and have suffered from the same malady – trying to accept your place in the world – the troubles portrayed have a much deeper and more poignant meaning. Despite the youthful cast, this is not a film for the pre-college or early 20s set. There are plenty of moments that will entertain, but believe me the irony and pain inherent in these sequences will elude you. Though told from the male point of view, the ladies hold all the power here (which is true in real life as well), mostly because they already know what they want. They also have the strength to walk away. Both Portman and Thurman are entrancing, giving the film spark, intelligence and heart.

Hutton, Dillon, et al, prove why women everywhere are frustrated with their love lives. Unfortunately for the female population, their characters are right on the money – desperate, sad and unwilling to commit to the now in the belief that something better will come along. What they almost fail to realize is that the best thing that every happened to them is right under their nose. Demme captures a slice of life with real honesty that both men and women can relate to. If you've overcome this hurdle in your own life, this is a film that will make you laugh and feel better about yourself. If you're still struggling with finding your adult self, watching this film will help curb the feelings that you're the only one with this problem. GIRLS is such a well-crafted film Demme's sudden death last year seems an even greater tragedy. It's a shame we won't be lucky enough to enjoy where his talent would have surely led.

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