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The Exploding Girl

4.0 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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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:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Oscilloscope
  • DVD Release Date: September 7, 2010
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003QR2SRC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,595 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Exploding Girl" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dan Lebryk TOP 100 REVIEWER on October 17, 2010
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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This is slow paced but beautiful movie. It's a tender and sweet coming of age story. Zoe Kazan is the glue that holds the movie together, with the very realistic angst and turmoil she feels as a college student who is struggling with juggling her life as a college student, her health issues of epilepsy and a boyfriend whom she is trying to stay attached to while she and he are apart on spring break. In some ways there is a real beauty in the slow, more real life type pace the movie reflects, the lack of big giant exciting moments in the movie, instead show the real life struggle of dealing with the day to day. This movie is so un-Hollywood in it's shooting. I also think Zoe Kazan's character as Ivy shows the very real side of life in that Ivy is dealing with an illness, epilepsy, that is scary at times and she isn't the bravest soul who just shrugs it off, but has to cope with balancing this in her life, which is very true for millions of people who have things like severe asthma, epilepsy or dozens of other illnesses that effect the choices they make. This is a really poignant film that is more reflective of a true coming of age story, and it shows what a really good actress Zoe Kazan was right at the outset of her career.
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Exploding Girl starring Zoe Kazan may not make everyone feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Some people might think this film is boring and that nothing significant happens to Ivy (Kazan) or that they might think this film tries too hard to be current or hip. The thing I take away from Exploding Girl is that this is a story of a young College girl who feels alone and out of place in the world and somewhow I can relate to that which makes this a memorable film to me. I've seen Zoe Kazan in a few films prior to this one, I never really took a strong interest in her before but after watching this film, I think it is very obvious that Kazan is an exceptional, gifted actress. Her character Ivy suffers from seizures and her relationship with her boyfriend Greg is on the verge of collapse whom she communicates with via cell phone. I like her friend Al and how their friendship takes an unexpected turn at the end of the film, it's beautiful and subtle and oh so realistic! I love this film, it's my own secret treasure! It might not move everyone but it moved me.
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