Paranoid Park
Directed by Gus Van Sant (R)

A teenager is troubled by the thought that he may have caused a man’s death.


Paranoid Park is a “modestly scaled triumph” for director Gus Van Sant, said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. In this “haunting, voluptuously beautiful portrait” of disaffected youth, a teenager named Alex inadvertently causes the death of a security guard in the railroad yards near a skating park. With no one to confide in, Alex becomes a prisoner of his own mind, burdened by moral confusion. Adapted from Blake Nelson’s novel and reminiscent of Dostoyevsky, Paranoid Park plays like a “still-evolving film unwinding in the boy’s head.” Van Sant offers more than a psychological analysis; he examines the “byways, dead ends, pitfalls, and turning points in the geography of conscience.” The film is “almost purely an aesthetic experience,” said Andrew O’Hehir in Though he keeps the action grounded in stark realism, Van Sant has created an “aural and visual construction whose landscapes are interior, meditative, and psychological.” Van Sant has made a career chronicling “teenage anomie,” said Joe Morgenstern in The Wall Street Journal. With Paranoid Park, he offers fresh insight into a “familiar state of being.”