David Gordon Green’s George Washington tells the very common story of young children slowly making their way to adulthood yet it’s as much concerned with this uncomfortable transition as it is with a Deep South overrun by poverty and the falseness of racial interaction. Green’s portrait of the South, though, is anything but hostile. Utopian without the naïveté, George Washington posits the possibility of a racially harmonious South. The film’s meditative score is predicated on drawn-out chords that delicately and sinuously fuse with Tim Orr’s breathtaking cinematography. Where Monster’s Ball bridged racial gaps by having a beautiful black woman take her clothes for her white master, George Washington silently crosses its bridge with a simple hug. A gangly white boy nearly drowns in the city pool only to be rescued by George Richardson (Donald Holden), a dreamer whose cranial bones have yet to fully form. While the interaction between the young white boy’s mother and George’s aunt suggests an unspoken discomfort, Green seems more overtly concerned with the historical awareness of his African-American characters. Nasia (Candace Evanofski) breaks up with Buddy (Curtis Cotton III) so she can pursue George, whose fragile fontanel evocatively suggests a superhero’s Achilles’ heel. And like the most tragic of superheroes, George’s ability to do good (here, a kind of atonement ritual) is predicated on guilt. George may wear a cape like any other boy who dreams of flying yet he goes further inside himself. It’s here that the film’s title needs mentioning. By never addressing George Washington in the film, Gordon incorporates the president into the film’s delicate mythic landscape. Washington is important because he was the first president, he helped rebuild a nation after its Revolution and, on a more fairy-tale level, he liked to chop down cherry trees. Gordon evocatively incorporates George Richardson into the spiritual soul of his mythic America via an evocative montage of photographs. George Washington is the closest thing we have to William Faulkner on screen, a deeply spiritual experience that acknowledges one’s need to discover and connect with our national ancestry.
- Cowboy Pictures
- 90 min
- David Gordon Green
- David Gordon Green
- Donald Holden, Candace Evanofski, Damian Jewan Lee, Curtis Cotton III, Rachael Handy, Paul Schneider, Eddie Rouse, Janet Taylor, Ebony Jones
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