I happily stumbled across 'Beautiful Girls' one evening on terrestrial TV and was at first captivated by the great cast. Timothy Hutton, Michael Rappaport, Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, Annabeth Gish and Martha Plimpton are all actors that have popped up in films that are not necessarily well known, but stretch back over my film watching history. It seemed fitting that they were playing in a film that mirrored the current stage of my life, albeit in a different place and lifestyle.
That is where Beautiful Girls hits the mark; it evokes universal feelings for time and place the way that Ang Lee's 'the ice storm' did for the bored married, or 'the Breakfast Club' did for the teen.
Its not a showy movie, but lulls you with well realised set pieces and dilemmas. Rosie O'Donnell's diatribe is fantastic, but it is Natalie Portman's astute turn as Marty that makes the film for me. You truly believe that Willie would fall for this smart 13 old - who wouldn't? She exudes intelligence and vitality and communicates with a man who 'was in 12th(?) grade when she was a zygote' on his level, reducing him to a nervous suitor at points with her wit. The Pooh and Christopher Robin reference is a poignant tool which the actors use to its full potential in this setting.
All in all, the film is a quiet pleasure, sketching the difficult, indifferent 20-something descisions of life - do you cling to your youth or move on to the next stage of life willingly? Ted Demme and cast do an admirable job.