Beautiful Girls (1996)

I mentioned in a previous piece that I was going to write about this film at some point, it’s the same director as Blow and his name is Ted Demme and he is related to Jonathan Demme and he died of a heart attack at the age of 37, which seems surprisingly young, not even 40 years old. So here I am. I made a promise that I would stick to my word more often and that I wouldn’t make over the top bombastic promises anymore. What can I say? I have someone in my life now who makes me want to be a better person. It’s a new feeling and I’m letting it happen instead of resisting, instead of clinging to my egocentric past self. Which is also new. So anyway I put this movie on when I was hanging out with two friends of mine. We had just gotten back from a walk by the Hudson river and were feeling a bit tired. My friends wanted to watch a good movie and were naturally looking to me for a recommendation. Now I’m not usually in the habit of recommending things I know nothing about but I had heard this was good, so I put it on, and wouldn’t you know it within 5 minutes we got sucked into it.

I’ll start with what I like about this movie. Because it’s not a balanced movie by any means. It’s totally entertaining and there is something great and heartwarming about it while simultaneously having such cringe inducing moments that make me doubt the validity on occasion. I do think it’s an underrated, understated, underhanded, whatever under word underwear underscore you want to use. It has a lot of good low key performances, I think Matt Dillon is a great actor. Great fucking actor. Drugstore Cowboy anyone? That Lars Von Trier film. There’s Something About Mary. Etc. Etc. Fucking etc. I wish I could make a movie with this dude, he’s the real deal. I think Mira Sorvino is sexy as hell in this film and the Matt Dillon character is an idiot for being so torn about her. I also think that the relationship between the “main character” I forget his name right now but the edgy wears all black urban one, and his relationship with young Natalie Portman is a bit too weird and a bit to cringe for me to think about. Also what’s weird Natalie Portman being the “quirky” kid in movies around this time? Not a big fan. I also think some of the dialogue feels a bit forced coming from Mr. Rappaport but that could also just be his style of acting.

There is something to be said about the way the humor comes in at weird times. I’m definitely a fan of that. Or when a joke breaks the tension of a dramatic moment. There is also something to be said about the environment this film takes place in. The snow in this film made the location feel very cozy. In another life I grew up in a town such as this one. Or maybe I am just busting my ass in this big city so as to one day retire in a place like this. Wouldn’t that be the dream? I already have a friend who moved out of the city and he seems to be enjoying it. I feel like I haven’t quite accomplished what I need to accomplish in this city but one day, mark my words, I will move to a house that I can call my own, a house in a town such as this one, surrounded completely by snow, almost hidden, and elevated by a melodic atmosphere that inherently warms the spirit. Is that too much to ask?

I don’t think a movie such as this one could ever exist again. For one, the Hollywood mold has changed so much within recent years that I don’t know how one could whip up an ensemble such as this one and not have it be superhero related. You get what I am saying? This movie could exist as a Tik Tok perhaps, if a group of Tik Tokers who lived in the same snowy town together decided to broadcast their high-school reunion and the relationship drama that ensued. I think the scene where the guys are all arguing with each other and then the restaurant owner yells “Free apps! We got free appetizers!” That moment was gold and I wish this film had more moments like this one. It sort of reminded me of a scene that would happen in another 1996 film “Swingers” (which is a much better film than this one but this one is still good not great but good) and that also says something.

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By Sebastian Sommer

Sebastian Sommer is a filmmaker, writer, and creator of the Tie Dye Film Festival.

One thought on “B Roll: Beautiful Girls”
  1. I totally love this movie, and I loved your review of it. I think it’s neat that you decided to write about it after connecting with a romantic partner who inspires you to be a better, more reliable guy. It’s that’s Willie’s trajectory too? For me, this movie captures the calmer vibe of the 1990s. Maybe right before we were more plugged into friends and other people, and less into phones and laptops (which aren’t featured in this film). I think this movie falls into that “cozy 1990s old-friends dramedy” – along with Home for the Holidays and Only You. And you’re right, isn’t a balanced film… I enjoy this film as a guilty hidden secret – only mentioning it when someone else, like yourself, also says they like it. Those cringe moments make it too easy to criticize, so I only talk about it with other fans. I’ll stop here. Just a big thanks for taking the time to write this. If I ever see you at one of the Wednesday night meetups, let’s chat about Beautiful Girls. Cheers!

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