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The Exploding Girl

4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Sep 07, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In her first leading role, Zoe Kazan (IT'S COMPLICATED, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD) plays Ivy, a twenty-year-old college student home for spring break. She's excited about a developing romance back at school and life is seemingly perfect. When her longtime friend Al finds himself without a place to stay during the break, Ivy and her mother take him in, and Al and Ivy's friendship strengthens while her boyfriend grows more and more distant. Increasingly distressed about her conflicting feelings, Ivy struggles to keep control, not wanting to overwhelm her emotions and trigger her epilepsy. Restrained and meditative, THE EXPLODING GIRL is an exquisite portrait of a young girl coming of age and finding a deeper kind of love in New York City.


The Exploding Girl is a rather sleepy coming-of-age tale whose title sequence depicting the girl, Ivy (Zoe Kazan), snoozing in a moving car while sunlight beautifully filters through trees onto her face, sets the tone of the entire feature. With a minimal plot that follows Ivy leaving for spring break from New York to visit her mom (Maryann Urbano); meeting up with her friend Al (Mark Rendall), who needs a place to crash; and then experiencing subtle ups and downs with her boyfriend, Greg, who exists solely as a cell phone voice, The Exploding Girl feels more like a trickle than an explosion. In many parts, the film functions better as a character study than plot-driven adventure, since Ivy as an epileptic struggles to care for herself and realizes in various moments her reliance on loved ones. As the story progresses and the viewer realizes that little will happen other than Ivy's inner debates about boys and her return from spring break back to what looks like the New York University campus, one might be best off enjoying this film's visual and sonic atmospherics. Sunlight and breeze airs this youthful drama out, making for some lovely sequences in which city noises are tempered by calming nature. Also as the story progresses and Ivy's alliance with Al strengthens, moments of scenic beauty become more obviously punctuated metaphor for Ivy's inner emotional tenor. Toward the end, for example, when Al shows Ivy his rooftop pigeon coops, the characters' peace flows on screen in some palpable way. Given the extras on this DVD, young director Brad Rust Grey's chiaroscuro student film about young adults making out, plus a music video in which crushed-out college students obsessively check their cell phones, one wonders if Grey might become the next John Hughes. Conversely, the characters in The Exploding Girl are much more melancholic than were Hughes's charismatic stars like Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. The Exploding Girl seeps into the mind, slowly and carefully, with little of the comedy Hughes went for, but it does investigate a younger generation's mode of romantic communication. In this way, one can look forward to Grey's subtle treatments of twentysomethings in future projects. --Trinie Dalton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Zoe Kazan
  • Directors: Brad Rust Grey
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Oscilloscope
  • DVD Release Date: September 7, 2010
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003QR2SRC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,466 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Exploding Girl" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Hey. Hey. Oh Hey...

Every phone conversation starts like this. The only difference, sometimes Ivy doesn't say hey a second time.

Not much happens in this film. Ivy and Al arrive at her mother's New York City house for summer college break. Ivy is involved with a faceless person that we get to know through their phone calls (mostly voice mail). Al ends up staying at Ivy's house; his parents have converted his room into a Tantric Sex room. The passage of time isn't obvious, it looks like only a few nights, but in reality the film spans most of the summer.

Exploding Girl is a slow moving, delicate, independent film. Shot with a Red Digital camera, every shot is rock solid, with minimal panning. Each scene is very carefully constructed and deliberate, the director uses framing effectively. Unfortunately, not every single shot is in focus. Even with this sometimes major fault, I loved this film. The director uses very slow pacing, shots run on for a good long time. The editing matches the feel of the film, take time to get to know the character and what they just did. Frequently foreground objects obstruct the frame. In the subway, it turns out none of this was planned; they bootlegged filming in the subway as described in the bonus making of featurette.

This is a sensual film. The chemistry between Ivy and Al develops slowly. Ivy is shy, Al is a bit more outgoing, but not by much. There is no nudity. There is one scene where Al and another girl smoke marijuana. I don't recall any strong language. The scene where Ivy has a seizure is done from a distance, but it is very clear what is happening.

I loved the character development. It felt like real life, getting to know Ivy and Al, and peripherally her mother and the disembodied boy friend, slowly.
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I have always admired indie films because I feel like there is something to gain from them that you won't gain from your typical film. While I will admit I have seen some that seem completely pointless, I have also considered the fact that some of these films have forced me to look at its content through a different kind of lense and to see the world from the characters perspective. The Exploding Girl in particular was one of the more interesting indie films I have seen recently. Ivy's character seemed slightly lost in her world yet still has a strong sense of identity; she is a character I could closely relate to and I can see how many people in high school and college could appreciate this film because it strongly focuses on understanding and accepting oneself. It also has a romantic side and shows how apathetic people can be in their relationships early on in life. The film quality is very artsy and colorful which in my opinion, draws in the auidence and gives the film much more character. I ordered it off of Amazon and was very satisfied with the packaging of the DVD. According to the box, 80% of it is made out of recycled materials (I've always been a big supporter of eco friendly things). The Exploding Girl is a film I am more than happy to add to my DVD collection.
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Format: DVD
The Exploding Girl (2009) is an independent film written and directed by Bradley Rust Gray.

Ivy (Zoe Kazan) is a college student who returns back home to Brooklyn for summer break. Her kind-natured childhood friend, Al (Mark Rendall), needs a place to stay over the summer and rooms with Ivy and her mother. As the summer progresses Ivy's increasingly disinterested boyfriend, Greg, ends their relationship via cellphone. Ivy's a sensitive soul struggling with epilepsy, keeping her emotions wrapped up tightly inside. Her faithful friend, Al, reaches out as Ivy sinks into despair. Will Ivy reach back? Will romance spark?

The Exploding Girl is a sweet, little film which explores the angst of young love. Zoe Kazan, the granddaughter of legendary film director, Elia Kaza, gives a wonderfully touching performance. Rendall does a nice job as Ivy's good-hearted friend. Eric Lin's cinematography is exquisite. The pigeon scene near the end of this film is clearly an homage to Zoe's grandfather's masterpiece, On the Waterfront.

Thank God for independent filmmakers. You'll never see a movie like The Exploding Girl from Hollywood.
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A short, yet slow film, that obviously isn't for everyone, but, for those who it *is* for, those who'll enjoy this ultra low-budget examination of friendship and romance, for us, it's like bittersweet candy. Ivy, played by the beautiful Zoe Kazan, has epilepsy(The name, Exploding Girl is a double entendre, for one, she has epilepsy, shown in one scene to heart-breaking effect, and also in regards for her angst and ennui regarding her relationships and confusions with them.) Her friend Al, played by Mark Rendall(Who really should be in more and more movies, he seems like a star in my opinion.) is staying at her place during a break in College(I think Spring Break, but I'm honestly not sure.) But over the course of this 80 minute film, Ivy goes back and forth emotionally with a boyfriend she only hears of in brief, uneventful phone calls that mirror the phone conversations we have in real life, we attempt to have long, rich conversations through a hand-held device, yet end up saying "good-bye" before anything of use or wealth is said. The fact that the film unfolds slowly, and feels slow, and yet only lasts 80 minutes is a toast to the writing and performances. Some will say its boring because of this, but to me, it was just about as realistic as you could get, and very fun and heart-warming to see these events play out the way they did, because, in real life, relationships dont get kick-started with a jolt of energy like they do in most movies, they take a lot of time and a lot of missed opportunities and seemingly lost chances and inhibitions. To me, this film was just about perfect. Its what I love in modern independent film-making, short, cheap, to the point, effective, lovely, and sweet. Whilst also being true.Read more ›
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