Quiet ex­plo­sions

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Rob DeWalt The New Mex­i­can

The Ex­plod­ing Girl, quiet in­die char­ac­ter study, not rated, Re­gal DeVargas, 3 chiles The ti­tle of the new­est film by screen­writer/di­rec­tor Bradley Rust Gray is as be­guil­ing as the sub­tle ad­vance­ment of its min­i­mal plot. Shot in a fre­quently claus­tro­pho­bic or view-ob­structed style us­ing a Red One high-def­i­ni­tion cam­era, The Ex­plod­ing Girl is a char­ac­ter study of a quiet, un­nerv­ing va­ri­ety. (Some may even say, given its lack of on-screen ex­cite­ment, that it’s also frus­trat­ingly mun­dane.) It’s the kind of shoe­string-bud­get film that boasts so many sus­tained scenes of in­ac­tion and si­lence that the fourmem­ber cast must dig deep to push the story for­ward with any ac­cept­able level of be­liev­abil­ity (their de­meanor re­calls ac­tor Michael Pitt’s near-mute turn as the Kurt Cobain-styled char­ac­ter in Gus Van Sant’s haunt­ing 2005 film Last Days).

Gray, who co-wrote the equally sub­dued 2006 film In Be­tween Days with his wife and film­mak­ing part­ner, So Yong Kim, con­tin­ues to test the bound­aries of bear­able cin­e­matic nat­u­ral­ism (in this case, by em­brac­ing the decade-old “mum­blecore” film move­ment, which prides it­self on small bud­gets, un­sea­soned ac­tors that do very lit­tle be­sides talk ca­su­ally, and ex­tremely loose screen­writ­ing) while min­ing the young-adult fe­male psy­che for his tales of grow­ing up.

The tit­u­lar girl is Ivy, played with nec­es­sar­ily non­com­bustible flair by Zoe Kazan ( Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Road, Me and Or­son Welles) — grand­daugh­ter of On the Water­front di­rec­tor Elia Kazan. Home to visit her mother (Maryann Ur­bano) while on spring break from col­lege, Ivy leaves be­hind her mopey boyfriend, Greg (Franklin Pipp), whom she sus­pects may be los­ing in­ter­est in her. Their long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship is marked by Ivy’s near-stalker-type cell­phone calls to Greg and his grow­ing ir­ri­ta­tion with her in­fat­u­a­tion and neediness.

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