Let's start by clearing up one point. First-time writer/director David
Gordon Green's GEORGE WASHINGTON is not about the father of our country.
In fact, the movie isn't about much of anything, which you will find out
if you can manage to stay awake. With its minimal plot and acting,
there aren't any characters worth caring much about even though the
director tries hard to pull on our heart-strings with some contrived
tragedies. Although one can assume that the production had a written
script, it feels like something from a junior college improvisational
Set in a graffiti-filled, rural South that looks like an inner city
ghetto, the story wants badly to be the next STAND BY ME. As the
story's enigmatic lead, 12-year-old George, Donald Holden delivers an
exceptionally bland performance. George has a baby-like head, so he
wears a football helmet since an accidental blow to the head might kill
The central and only substantial incident occurs in a bathroom where one
of the kids slips and cracks his skull during some innocent horseplay.
Incongruously, the other kids just stare at him. They don't appear
upset, and they don't take him for medical help. Eventually, they
decide to move the dead body but do a terrible job of hiding it. This
is all so unbelievably written and acted that it is almost impossible to
have much sympathy or concern for the kids, even the dead one. Watching
it is like observing some little children play acting on the street.
The movie's saving grace, to the extent that it has one, is Tim Orr's
vibrant, rust-colored cinematography. At its best, it evokes the lush
sort of images found in THE THIN RED LINE.
Declining an offer to come to a girl's house, George tells her, "I just
ain't got nothing to say." And neither does the movie.
GEORGE WASHINGTON runs a long 1:29. It is not rated but might be PG-13
for mature themes and violent images and would be acceptable for
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes