Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Perfect World (2012)

A Perfect WorldContinuing his exploration of what makes a man good, bad -just plain human-is what this film delves into, even more deeply than in the stunning "Unforgiven" (to his credit, Eastwood never pretends, as some male writers and directors do, that he understands women; instead, he admits that we are mysteries to him, and concentrates his energies on what he does understand: American men). Refusing to subscribe to typical American cinematic over-simplifications of "good vs. evil," Clint Eastwood delivers films that make you realize very quickly that there is no room for such absolutes when dealing with human truths. This thesis, which he has been pursuing for some time now, perhaps starting with "Tightrope" where the line between good and evil blurs to invisibility, he has, with "A Perfect World," given us a translation of John Lee Hancock's brilliant screenplay that is both beautiful and almost too painful to bear. Noted by critics at the time of its relase, but completley ignored by audiences who, it seems, found Kevin Costner as an escaped convict just too unpalatable, this film takes us on a complex journey deep into the souls of two tortured men, Costner's "Butch Haynes" and Eastwood's "Red," the Texas Ranger who is charged with running the escaped Haynes down. The past and its consequences are a continual theme in all of Eastwood's important works, and in this film, the ironies are neck-deep and take time and patience from the viewer to unravel. Even the decision by Red to commandeer the vehicle the Governer intends to ride in the next day when President Kennedy will be in Dallas (this is 1963) brings up the question: would the Governer have been shot had he been in this vehicle instead of in the President's car? This is one subtle example of how decision and consequence are continously explored in this most thought-provoking of films.

Kevin Costner gave probably the best performance of his life, cast against type as a complex man who cannot be called either bad or good, merely profoundly human, whose life has followed a course laid by poverty, homelessness, a suicide mother and a felonious father, a bit of high spirits, and high intelligence with nowhere to go, but most importantly, the Texas penal system as it was managed in the 60's. Haynes' moral center, despite his acts, never wavers, and it is that moral center that propels events which finally spiral out of his control and into tragedy. But we see, clearly, that even a so-called "bad" man can be good enough to inspire genuine, deep love that, in the end, redeems both him and the person whose initial action started the long chain of events that ends with the 36 hours over which this film takes place (we discover who this is along the way, and I don't want to lessen the impact of any discoveries). Another reviewer here implied that it was Eastwood who is responsible for Costner's excellence in this film, but having seen so many interviews with his actors, it is generally understood that Eastwood casts his actors, then leaves them alone to find the character and reveal him without a great deal of interference, so it would seem that the credit is, indeed, Costner's. Sadly, he never again worked against type, perhaps because of this film's commercial failure, but this performance will always stand as testament to what he can do, and never is that performance better than in the house where Cajun music on the Victrola and senseless violence against a boy much of an age as Butch himself was when violence entered his life, combine to send him into a sort of fugue state of memory, pain, longing, rage, and ultimately, the loss of control that brings things to a terrible end.

The boy, Philip, with whom he bonds (played beautifully by the transparent T.J. Lowther) also gives us his heart laid bare, and the rapport between the two of them is completely believable. We understand the child's repeated choices to stay with Butch, and the reasons go far beyond the superficial need for a father (his is gone), and into the realm of love. It is from Haynes that he learns the lesson that exacts the price of Haynes' escape, but then it is his love for Haynes that makes it bearable, and even right, for both of them, as in the end, he becomes the protector--the man--whose job it is to help a loved-one who can no longer help himself.

When a film's characters are torn apart by the end of a film, its viewers should be, too, and we definitely are. It is a difficult, heart-breaking journey that Clint Eastwood insists we take with him, but taking it brings us to the point where we should start each day: from scratch. Red's last line is, "I don't know a da*n thing anymore," and that is exactly the point and the purpose of this story. We should never, ever think we have all the answers; to do so is fatal, as Red learns. Every day we should be willing to examine our beliefs and look back, with honesty, at what we've done, and look forward to what we're about to do with eyes wide open and with some sort of awareness of potential damage, and know, always, that there is no good "us," no bad "them," but that we're all only human beings, deeply flawed and yet filled with the capacity for love and connection, each of us doing the best we can.

This film has two of Hollywood's biggest stars Eastwood and Costner both of whom give great performances. But it's the young actor who plays the kidnapped boy who steals the show. This drama is set in Texas, early November 1963 shortly before JFK's fateful visit to Dallas. An escaped convict (Costner) kidnaps a boy and is on the run from the law (Eastwood) and each of their lives are changed forever. The film is especially touching whenever it focuses on the growing relationship between the convict & boy Costner's portrayal of the tough escapee with a kind heart is great and the boy is so natural and likeable. Under Eastwood's direction the film is controlled and avoids the pitfall of melodrama. The ending is tragic yet inevitable. I think this is one of Costner's best performances and was surprised when the film seemed to be overlooked by the media. I loved the whole feel of the movie and cared about the characters even some of the minor ones like the sharecropper family. I highly recommend this film.

Buy A Perfect World (2012) Now

This film is one of those rare movies that manage to use the strengths of all involved. First, this is the very best of Clint Eastwood both as a director and actor. Eastwood the director learned his trade from Don Siegel, who made a bunch of no-nonsense 70's action films, many of them with Eastwood as the star. Eastwood learned his trade well from the master. He can edit the fat out of a film very effectively. Eastwood the actor really shines in this film as well in a supporting role as a Texas Ranger at the tail end of a career doing a kind of slow burn as events unfold around him.

This film is also Kevin Costner's best work ever, and one has to imagine it came because Director Eastwood sat on him hard. Whatever, Costner gives a very, very good performance, full of depth as a prisoner on the lam. He is actually tough and touching at the same time, no small feat for any actor.

Finally, Laura Dern is also at her best in this film. What happened to her, anyway? Where did she go? Anyway, the romance between the Eastwood character and Dern is understated and very moving, as each character slowly gain respect for the other. Dern is not classically beautiful, but she comes off as very real and smart, with a sense of humor and a real humanity. Hollywood needs more like her, instead of fashion models playing cops. Dern looks natural as hell in the role with a beauty, as corny as it sounds, that comes from within.

All in all, a vastly overlooked gem that is well worth owning.

Read Best Reviews of A Perfect World (2012) Here

Kevin Costner turned up in his best role in years in this excellent drama of an escaped convict, serving time for a series of armed robberies who kidnaps a young boy and holds him hostage. Along the way the boy soon befriends Costner. This film remains tense and gripping throughout, holding many moments of suspense, The acting is great from a cast that also includes Clint Eastwood who also directed this movie. Its great to seee such two great actors together and its a pity they dont share any of their scenes together. There are some moments of comedy too giving this the balance it needs to be a good film. Very good scripts throughout the film and the ending is surprisingly quite moving. Highly recommended!

Want A Perfect World (2012) Discount?

this film kicked me in the gut. I don't understand how it has been so seemingly overlooked: Costner should have have been nominated for an academy award for his portrayal of Butch Haynes, a man with some good at heart but constantly teetering on the edge of violence. he isn't aware of his predelictions-he isn't trying to be good, quite the opposite. but he seems to do good in spite of himself. you must pity him as someone trapped in their own violent past, trying to rewrite it by befriending his young hostage, and still trying to move hopelessly towards an unattainable future.

the final scenes of this film are inevitable, and almost too painful to watch.

Eastwood's direction, especially that of the boy and Costner, is tremendous. also, the flat-eyed, totally irredeemable character of the FBI sharp-shooter makes for a good contrast with Butch: both kill an equal number of people in the film: one. yet which killing is the more justified?

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