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by Robert McCourt | september 17, 2001

George Washington

It has to be said that the multi award winning film George Washington comes with more than the usual array of tributes and accolades.  Armond White in the New York Press tells us that there has been no greater achievement in recent film history and according to Jack Seargeant it is to be the 'benchmark by which coming-of-age films are judged' being 'original in every atom of its being' (Roger Ebert).

Directed by the 25 year old David Gordon it tells the story of a group of poor, rural children from America’s Deep South who accidentally kill  one of their friends during an innocent and childish game.  Frightened of the consequences they vote to keep their friends death a secret and begin to veer dangerously of course as they struggle to come to terms with their own consciences.  An obviously familiar story of lost youth has a deep sense of social reality, depicting a group of kids trying to break free from an almost inescapable life which holds few prospects and opportunities.  George is the quiet hero who dreams of one day becoming President, Nasia (12years old) falls in love with his confidence and ambition, and dumps Buddy (13 yrs) who still pines after her company and conversation. The maturity of these young emotions breaks down the barrier between adults and kids and adds a sombre humour to the film.

The cast of unknown actors is a random collection of people from all over the south of the United States, from barber shops, youth clubs, churches, and the streets.  Yet by living together during the 19 day shoot they got to know each other and impromptu scenes allowed friendships and tensions to be played out on screen.  Together with the simple nature of the script and the natural flow of conversation ‘George Washington’ helps to encapsulate what you would imagine life to be like in the Deep South.  The cinematography and effective use of antique filters enhances this mind image, and re-creates the languid ease and pace of life in the deep South.  Though this means the film is never lacking in atmosphere it is sometimes lacking in pace, and momentum.

A melancholy drama 'George Washington' is beautifully narrated film (Nasia) capturing some moments of unforgettable reality.


A bfi Collections release


Directed by David Gordon Green
Cinematographer Tim Orr

Certificate - 12
Running Time - 89 Minutes
Release Date - September 28th 2001, Metro Cinema, Ritzy Cinema,
and National Film Theatre, London and Broadway, Nottingham.

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