George Washington

American indie that falls, stylistically, somewhere between Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven and Harmony Korine's Gummo, Green's debut effort about several adolescents in a post-industrial North Carolina town lacks the cohesiveness or sophistication of those earlier films.

A would-be tone poem about guilt and heroism amongst a group of friends (mostly black, some white) after a tragic accident takes out one of their own, George Washington is maddeningly variable in focus. From scene to scene it is by turns brilliant, amateurish, beautiful, pointless, poetic, pretentious, and dull. There are enough memorable moments to stay with you, but the film as a whole is so inconsistent in narrative quality that all I can say is, E for Effort, Mr. Green, and better luck next time when you are more confident with your own style.

High marks, however, for the film's unaffected racial harmony, Tim Orr's gorgeous widescreen cinematography, and young actor Damian Jewan Lee, the clear standout in a cast of nonprofessionals (some of whom are adequate, others rather stiff).