Paranoid Park follows the journey 16-year-old Alex takes one weekend. Alex is a skateboarder whose got a lot on his plate. Social rules dictate that he has a girlfriend, but because it’s only fulfilling the rules of the social game, neither is really into the relationship with any degree of depth. Add to this Alex’s parents being far along the process of getting divorced and the effect it’s having on his mentally challenged brother and yo know Alex is carrying a heavy load.
Van Sant is brilliant in his excruciatingly prolonged cinematography, utilising slow motion when someone is walking heightens the feeling that Alex’s life is grinding to a halt – something is going on in his life and its more than he can process, and everything seems to be pointing toward Paranoid Park – the local skate park.
It’s a mesmerising, powerful story that shines a harsh light on western relationship and parenting skills – were we seem to have traded in commitment and parenting, yet don’t seem to have reaped any rears for doing so. Our children are growing up without any real sense of direction and we grown ups are fracturing out of control.
As powerful a masterpiece as it is, nothing Van Sant does is easy to watch – Paranoid park isn’t entertaining – it drags along like a snail traversing a hat summers sidewalk, painfully aware that if it takes much longer, it’s going to die.
But as with Gerry and Elephant, you end up with a sense of accomplishment, and a lot to think about and discuss after watching, and this along with his unique ability to draw you into the story, make Paranoid Park – and in fact anything Van Sant does, worth watching.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: R16 – Contains Content That May Disturb.
Duration: 85 mins.
Director: Gus Van Sant.
Actors: Brad Peterson, Taylor Momsen, Daniel Liu, Lauren McKinney, Jake Miller, Winfield Jackson, Dillon Hines, Gabe Nevins, Emily Galash.
Release Date: Available now.