A small-town Carolina Casanova (Paul Schneider, an unstunning facial composite of Cruise and Costner) takes a shine to one of his buddies' all-grown-up but virginal sister (Zooey Deschanel, with her druggy, draggy, warped-record delivery, turning every line into an exercise in eccentricity, an adventure in affectation): "She makes me decent." The evocative locales -- the river, the mill, the hilltop, the junkyard, the stock-car track, the coffee shop, the motel -- are so well chosen and photographed as to swallow up these puny people and their very small talk (of pretzels and pancakes and things) and even their seismic crises: "You're not my friend anymore! You're not even in my top ten!" A mild upset, this, of background over foreground, authentic over synthetic. The musical background -- blissed-out Far Eastern-y, New Age-y stuff -- is quite another matter, another world. With Patricia Clarkson; written and directed by David Gordon Green. (2003) — Duncan Shepherd
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