the fresh films reviews

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A Perfect World (1993)

Clint Eastwood
A Perfect World
138 minutes
Mark Johnson
David Valdes
John Lee Hancock

Cast includes:

Butch Haynes Kevin Costner
Red Garnett Clint Eastwood
Sally Gerber Laura Dern
Phillip Perry T. J. Lowther
Terry Pugh Keith Szarabajka
Bradley Ray McKinnon



In A Perfect World, Clint Eastwood isn't the confident, hard-nosed, right-wing crime-fighter we saw in the 1970s and 80s, neither as a director or an actor. Instead he presents a slow-moving, moody piece set in the American south during the 1960 in which an escaped convict (Kevin Costner) takes a fatherless 8-year-old kid (T. J. Lowther) hostage and embarks on an adventurous, congenial car getaway with him, tailed by a handful of fairly ineffective machismo-based law-enforcers.

The film's strength lies in the developing relationship between Costner's likeable character, who constantly balances on the edge of goodness and morality, and the receptive child. The recurring theme is innocence and romanticism, both society's and the individuals'. And the interpersonal predicament is this: How can the Costner character enable the boy to expect and achieve more from life than he did himself without corrupting him with his behaviour? Costner's entire future is put on hold when he recognises his own spitting image in this child, and the kid, who desperately wants the world to be good, clings to his captor's positive sides (of which there are quite a few) like any nave, under-stimulated kid would. This relationship covers remarkable emotional depth, and the performances from Costner and young Lowther are superb.

There's no doubt Eastwood has very warm feelings about the 1960s, despite its primitive crime-fighting ways and the large generation gaps that created plenty of social voids in a society in the midst of modernization. His rendition of the time period in question is attractive, if not exactly rosy red. And if he offers no solutions, at least he offers plenty of warmth, hope and - unavoidably - grief.

Re-reviewed: Copyright 7.10.2013 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang
Original review:
Copyright 5.5.1996 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang