I sat down with high hopes but unfortunately this is simply not interesting enough, the plot is so thin it barely exists and I had to fight to keep my mind from wandering as the minutes lurched by. - Denehan
Paranoid Park is eighty minutes long and of this roughly ten minutes are filled with grainy slow motion skateboarding set to atmospheric/pretentious spoken word French ambient music. That's more than ten percent of the film. The other sixty-odd minutes centre on Alex, an androgynous adolescent who solemnly wrestles with day-to-day teenage life. Beneath his disaffected exterior many teenage problems bubble such as his parents divorce, his skateboarding limitations and the lack of feeling he has for his girlfriend. However none of these troubles can compete with the fact that he has recently accidentally killed a security guard at a train yard near a skate park. When a detective comes to his school asking the skaters questions Alex gets nervous. And that's about it really. There really is nothing else to the plot. Mala Noche, Gus Van Sant's debut, featured amateurs in the lead roles and now, strangely, he has come full circle. Having proved himself in Hollywood he has now once again entrusted his vision to amateurs. The stilted delivery and innate awkwardness both resonate and grate at the same time. Putting his film in the hands of untrained teenagers, while occasionally providing the hoped-for authenticity, backfires overall. Music plays a very strong part in the film, from country to hip hop, from classical to ambient - constantly setting the tone symbiotically with the visuals. It is regularly our only insight into guessing at the feelings of the characters, as the script is so anaemic. I sat down with high hopes but unfortunately this is simply not interesting enough, the plot is so thin it barely exists and I had to fight to keep my mind from wandering as the minutes lurched by. There are some beautiful looking scenes, the camera mimicking a storm is a highlight, but these are not enough to save Paranoid Park.
Review published on the 25 May 2008 11:23
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