Paranoid Park (15)

Written and Directed by Gus Van Sant, from a novel by Blake Nelson
Screening at FACT from 4th-10th January 2008-01-09

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Having been very impressed with the work of director Gus Van Sant, notably 'Elephant' and 'Last Days', this film - set in Portland, Oregon - proved to be a big disappointment. It is technically accomplished, particularly the superb cinematography of Chris Doyle, but meanders all over the place.

Adapted from a novel by Blake Nelson, Paranoid Park - unlike the skateboarders at the centre of the movie - plods along with very little suspense and too much dialogue.

All the non-professional actors were recruited from MySpace and boy does it show! In general most of them deliver lines in a mannered and self-conscious way.

The main character, sixteen-year-old Alex (Gabe Nevins), hangs around Paranoid Park, which has been built by other local skateboarders, where he is asked to go train-hopping by an older lad. This leads to him accidentally killing a security guard when he hits him with his skateboard, which causes the guard to fall on another track and being severed in half at the waist.

The police question Alex, along with other skateboarders, but he is not suspected of committing the crime.

However relaxed he appears with the police, he suffers inner torment at what he has done. He feels cut off from adults - the fact that his parents are about to be divoreced does not help - and the only person who can sense the anguish he is going through is Macy (Lauren McKinney), who encourages him to write his problems down on paper to help him alleviate the mental pain he is experiencing.

To compound my misgivings about Paranoid Park, the film just peters out to an end without any coherent sense of a conclusion.

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