Understanding American youth (or at least, attempting to) seems to be an ever popular and fruitful inspiration for indie filmmakers, and Gus Van Sant’s indie flick Paranoid Park seems to be yet another examination of the disaffected, tracking the life of Alex before and after he causes the accidental death of a security guard.
Sharing many similarities Van Sant’s earlier and much lauded 2003 film Elephant, a cast of mainly unknowns and local skaters from Van Sant’s native Portland, Oregon stumble their way through a indolently paced tale. While some of the acting is exceptional from such inexperienced acting, particularly Gabe Nevins as the lead, Alex, others show their inexperience with stunted or wooden lines. It’s a shame because when it happens, it can knock the rhythm of an otherwise excellent scene off balance.
Generally though, it’s an interesting piece set to an authentic soundtrack, well shot and for the most part, well acted. Momsen adds a touch more authenticity as the girlfriend, Jennifer but is woefully underused. All in all, the choice of film and lenses help contribute to it feeling like a skating documentary with a story attached, and this is no bad thing.