David Gordon Green’s tenaciously disorienting feature debut, George Washington, isn’t about the father of our country at all but rather about some of his nation’s latter day offspring, strewn like weeds in rural North Carolina. Neglected in poverty, they survive, black and white entwined, in tough tendrils of friendship — which are tested when one of their group dies in a roughhousing accident. (Most of the cast is nonprofessional.)
The movie is a peculiar combination of willful meandering and matter of fact violence, and it occasionally confounds in its attempts to exalt. And most confounding of all is George (Donald Holden), the enigmatic ”hero” at the story’s center, whose skull is so soft he must wear a helmet to protect his vulnerable brain. But exasperation is outweighed by Green’s understanding of kids — how supple and pliable they are, and what crushing pressures they regularly withstand, wearing no helmets at all.