Beautiful Girls

on February 09, 1996 by Kim Williamson
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A well-done movie perfectly timed for Valentine season, this character comedy asks one of the world's two perennial questions: What do men want? According to small-burg snowplow man Thomas (Matt Dillon), it is (or should be--he's having an affair) the woman who loves you; according to his fellow snowplower, Paul (Michael Rapaport), it's a succession of curvaceous models. Caught between these two is struggling big-city piano player Willie (Timothy Hutton), returned to spend time with his hometown pals while he tries to decide whether he should marry his current girlfriend, a successful metro lawyer (Annabeth Gish). Newly complicating Willie's decision is the oddly alluring presence of the next-door 13-year-old "old soul," Marty ("The Professional's" Natalie Portman, who does a wonderful job with a complex character), and a blonde (Uma Thurman) just blown in from Chicago.
With only a few lapses, Scott Rosen-berg's script is so good it outshines his much-praised "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead." Warming to the essentially simple but very human material, all the actors, except for Thurman, give fine turns that make a night spent with "Beautiful Girls" a memorable night indeed. Starring Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, Michael Rapaport, Natalie Portman, Lauren Holly, Mira Sorvino and Uma Thurman. Directed by Ted Demme. Written by Scott Rosenberg. Produced by Cary Woods. A Miramax release. Romance. Rated R for strong language and nude pin-ups. Running time: 115 min. [Miramax is re-releasing this romantic drama, which debuted this past winter without overwhelming boxoffice success (to date, it's pulled in $10.7 million, which is not bad for an art-house film--except this one cost $9 million to make), in the hopes that the autumn will prove a more clement atmosphere for the winter-set film. "Beautiful Girls" re- rolled out last weekend in New York, Los Angeles and Boston, in the added hopes of garnering Oscar attention for a fabulous supporting performance by Natalie Portman ("The Professional") and for an engaging screenplay by Scott Rosenberg, who also scripted "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead."]
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