Paranoid Park (2007)
Gus Van Sant knows teenage environments and psyche better than most filmmakers, something he wants to show off with the artsy Paranoid Park - a film which claims to be about "real" teenagers through its use of non-professional actors and unsensationalized representations. It is a welcomed contrast to the typical Hollywood teen films, and Van Sant makes some of the scenes seem very authentic. This applies especially to the more crowded segments, where Paranoid Park has a documentary quality (e.g. the meetings with the detective). However, not every element of this allegorically ambitious film about mortality and guilt is productive. Newcomer Gabe Nevins in the lead feels like a real youth, but his line delivery is self-conscious and forced. He isn't able to carry the weight of the film's central thematics on his shoulders, and Van Sant tries to relieve him steadily through poetic images and music. Some of this takes us back to teenage land, whilst some of it feels overdone and makes the film detached. Ultimately, Paranoid Park isn't able to make enough emotional impact despite its poignant subject material.