George Washington (2000): David Gordon Green Impressive Debut

Regional filmmaker David Gordon Green makes a most impressive feature-directing debut with George Washington, an impressive morality tale, offering an unsparing look at a racially diverse group of adolescent friends, growing up in rural North Carolina.

Grade: A- (**** out of *****)

After telling a lie in order to cover up the death of one of their own, they must cope with loss and death and face the consequences of their actions.

Shooting in semi-documentary mode, Green uses uncontrolled environments, natural lighting, and a cast of non-professional actors to tell his story, which bears slight resemblance to River’s Edge.

The film follows a group of kids growing up in a depressed rural town in North Carolina, seen through the eyes of 12-year-old Nasia (Candace Evanofski).

After breaking up with her show-off boyfriend Buddy (Curtis Cotton III), she withdraws from her delinquent friends and becomes romantically interested in a strange, introverted boy named George Richardson (Donald Holden), burdened by the fact that his skull never hardened after birth.

Tragedy strikes when George accidentally kills Buddy, and the group, fearing punishment, decide to hide his body.

In its aftermath, George takes up the unlikely role of town hero.

This sharply observed rumination on adolescence and rural life, which is about memory and regret, benefits immensely from Tim Orr’s cinematography.

Highly original, it bears Green’s personal signature as writer, producer, and director, and cannot be compared to any other film of its kind in its tonal consistency and haunting impact.

Candace Evanofski as Nasia
Curtis Cotton III as Buddy
Donald Holden as George Richardson
Damian Jewan Lee as Vernon
Rachael Handy as Sonya
Paul Schneider as Rico Rice
Eddie Rouse as Damascus
Janet Taylor as Aunt Ruth