The Exploding Girl (2009) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
6Jan/112

The Exploding Girl (2009)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny INDIFFERENTSilence is something that belongs to cinema. While paintings have moment-of-time abstraction, the written word can express deep provinces of the heart and mind, and music can evoke without presence, few other forms of art get to play as cinema does, ostensibly, with so much for so little.

The Exploding Girl abuses this notion to its fullest. 82 minutes of this film linger on scenes of our protagonist chewing her nails, looking thoughtful, and generally milling about. The characters mumble their way through what little plot there is, and any character development you might feel develops only occurs because you want to believe it's occurred, otherwise those last 82 minutes might have just been a total waste.

Notice that green tint. That's because there's something in the foreground. That happens in practically every shot.

Ivy is headed home on spring break, and things aren't going well. Her boyfriend, Cary, has grown estranged, and her old friend, Al, is staying on her mother's couch. Al is flirtatious but a party animal, and Ivy, through many long, silent sequences of travel and waiting, must parse through her feelings between the man available and the man on the other end of the phone.

Ivy is epileptic. If you think in any way that this doesn't relate to the title of the film, then I'm sorry to disappoint you. No, no one bursts in to flames, and even the scene where we do finally see her 'explode' is played like the rest of the film: the action obscured, its impact minimized.

Objects linger and pass through the foreground. While these makes for a nice shot on occasion, a lot of the time it gives the impression of the viewer as a stalker. Since this doesn't really seem to fit into the film's narrative progression, we can only assume it was tacked on to add to the 'artistic weight' of the film.

Watching Ivy undergo her slow transition is hardly the revelation the filmmakers want to pretend it is. Zoe Kazan, who plays Ivy, has a beautiful face, admittedly, with slimmer versions of Giulietta Masina's lovely eyes, but using them as the basis for a practically-dialogue free art film is a few steps away from an injustice. They need something to emote to, and as much inner turmoil as I'm sure Ivy is going through, it feels stretched out beyond the limits of the most tempered person's empathy.

Ivy spends the film dressed like a child, indicating her frame of mind for most of the film. Or the limitations of the film's costuming budget.

The difference between this film and, say, Medicine for the Melancholy, is that Medicine had something to say. The characters bantered and debated about their class, their race, their city, and anything that crossed their minds. The Exploding Girl was created to be as effusive as possible. You will only get out of it what you put into it, and, even then, it seems like a gyp.

The trailer for this film is a much more satisfying experience, and, even then, I wouldn't recommend it.

Posted by Danny

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  1. i am still trying to find words to describe how much i hate this movie. surprisingly many people seem to love it, or at least give it a pass.

    • When you have something something sufficiently obfuscatory, people will go for it just to make sure they don’t look stupid. From what I remember, I couldn’t out and out hate it, but it was just kind of pointless.


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