Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Perfect World


A Perfect World; Drama, USA, 1993; D: Clint Eastwood, S: Kevin Costner, T. J. Lowther, Clint Eastwood, Laura Dern

Texas, '63. Convicts Butch and Terry manage to escape from prison and steal a car. Terry marches in into a home of a Jehova's Witness family and takes their boy Phillip as a hostage. Texas Ranger Red and his assistant Sally start the search for them in the trailer of the governor. When Terry starts terrorizing Phillip, Butch shoots him. A deep friendship between Butch and Phillip evolves, thus they even steal cars together. Butch even buys the boy new clothes and a Casper costume. When they sleep over on a field, they meet some guy called Nick who offers them food at his home. When Nick hits his son, Butch wants to kill him. Phillip shoots butch in the stomach and throws the gun into a well. The two of them retreat on a meadow where they are found by the police. Red takes the boy, Butch gets shot.

"A Perfect World" is hardly a perfect film, but it's still a quality piece of psychological drama revolving around the Stockholm syndrome, remorse, friendship and redemption. Following his long stream of author's films, Clint Eastwood once again proved to be a director of solid virtues, relying on calm, tranquil mood and straightforward style: the exposition is equipped with many fine details, like when it is discovered the little boy Phillip can't participate in Halloween celebrations because he is a Jehova's Witness. There is also the leitmotif of distorted father-son relationships: Butch and Phillip constantly encounter parents that beat or mistreat their children, and thus are ironically the only real ideal, acting as a father and son even though they are not related. It's an emotional film, but even though many critics call it an underrated gem, it has plenty of flaws: mannerism (the boy spends almost half of the kidnapping time in his underpants), cliches (an agent slightly inappropriately flirts with Sally and immediately Eastwood is there to "rescue" her in an equally inappropriate heroic manner, forgetting not every film he stars in is an unknown hero western), heavy handed situations and an awfully pathetic and sentimental ending filled with plot devices (agent shoots the unarmed Butch who falls backwards brokenly). Dropping the too obvious elements for the sake of a little more subtlety would have improved the film a lot. Like most Kevin Costner films, this one also suffers from rigid situations, but it has poetry and thus it's justified that it was made.

Grade:++

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