Beautiful Girls [DVD] 
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Piano player Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton) is considering settling down with his lawyer girlfriend Tracy (Annabeth Gish). He returns to his Massachusetts hometown to make up his mind, and meets up with old friends Tommy (Matt Dillon) and Paul (Michael Rapaport). They, too, have relationships to mull over, but group soul-searching is put on hold when they all fall for the same beautiful woman (Uma Thurman).
This town drama from Ted Demme centres on former classmates coming together for their 10-year reunion. Scott Rosenberg's (Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead) script thoughtfully passes over the usual grumblings of young adults who can't believe they still live in the same snowbound town. They accept--even welcome--their blue-collar jobs, whether ploughing snow or cutting hair. Willie (Timothy Hutton), the lone wanderer, returns to his listless house in a state of flux, the piano-bar circuit wearing thin as is his relationship with Tracy, a well-off attorney (Annabeth Gish). He isn't the only one with problems. Tommy (Matt Dillon) occasionally sleeps with his now-married high school sweetheart Darian (Lauren Holly) while the earnest Sharon (Mira Sorvino) is left to wait. Paul (another thick-headed role for Michael Rapaport) refuses to commit to Jan (Martha Plimpton) until it's too late. Paul is enamoured with the idea of the supermodel (the title's "beautiful girls") that, he believes, can make life perfect. It's a very satisfying comedy, with some forced poignancy (Willie's description of Tracy as a "seven and a half" comes off as a death sentence). Rosie O'Donnell's dissertation on why Playboy and Penthouse have ruined male expectations is much like Meg Ryan's orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally: it's hilarious, even memorable, but never wholly believable.
The two wild cards thrown into Beautiful Girls give the film its kick. Uma Thurman enters as the local barman's (Pruitt Taylor Vince) radiant cousin. From the big city, she can flirt with the awestruck guys and still keep her head. Willie's true emotional tug is from Marty, his precocious 13-year-old neighbour. If you didn't see Natalie Portman's sophisticated work in Leon, her performance here will come as a revelation. You deeply believe that Willie and Marty are connected despite their age difference. Their courtship will never come to be, but the way the two talk (and talk some more) about their lives is the most insightful part of Rosenberg's script. Everyone's so comfortable in his or her roles that you may truly feel sad when the film ends. --Doug Thomas, Amazon.com --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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Top customer reviews
There is, of course, a more substantial level to the film - leitmotivs of friendship, love and return to innocence feature strongly - which leave you with something more than feeling good about the world. Although the principles of good ol' hometown America are prevalent the feel of this film is anything but conventional, introducing us to the sometimes bizarre world of mid-west America. It's not uncomfortable, just different.
A truly lovely film that will help you appreciate your friends and their often brutal honesty....
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.
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Good life lessons for the young men!