(Gus Van Sant, US, 2007) 85min
This article is from 2007.
Using Blake Nelson’s novel as inspiration Paranoid Park is a cross between Memento, Brick and The Outsiders. Gus Van Sant pushes the boundaries of the time-jumping narrative he essayed in Elephant to tell this pulp tale of a high school kid who gets embroiled in a murder rap. Van Sant displays his usual fascination with youth culture as we are bombarded with shots of kids skateboarding at Paranoid Park. His prime object of desire is Alex (newcomer Gabe Nevins), who becomes our unreliable narrator. As he writes his story down in his journal he lets us know right off the bat that his memory is poor.
As Alex tries to piece together the story we get little snippets of his life and the slacker culture that Van Sant seems obsessed by. The one solid fact that kicks off the tale is that a security guard has been killed and foul play is suspected. The story then starts jumping around as we’re introduced to the girls in Alex’s life (Lauren McKinney and Taylor Momsen) and his troop of skateboarding pals. With Wong Kar-wai regular Christopher Doyle operating the camera Van Sant is happy to break up the story with familiarly stylised shots of skaters doing their stuff.
Like Elephant, Van Sant’s latest is given added resonance by its surprising dénouement. This is easily Van Sant’s most satisfying film of his recent youth alienation pictures – Gerry, Last Days and Elephant. (Kaleem Aftab)
Cineworld, 623 8030, 21 Aug, 8.45pm & 23 Aug, 10.30pm, both £7.95 (£5.50).