A Perfect World

USA, 1993. Director: Clint Eastwood. Stars: Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, Laura Dern.

A perfect film? Maybe not (though I can't find much to fault in it), but A Perfect World is further evidence that Clint is going from strength to strength as both director and star. Those orangutan flicks are far behind him. He takes a back-seat in the acting stakes here (though his role as a cop leading a manhunt for two escaped prisoners is a typical slice of what Clint does best). Instead he lets Kevin Costner shine in his best role since Dances With Wolves and perhaps the first that's really required him to play someone other than Kevin Costner.

Costner's character is charged with ambiguity: a good guy who does bad things, just when you figure he's okay he pulls the rug from under you. Accompanying the escaped convict is a kidnapped small boy (beautifully played by one of America's endless supply of charming small boy actors) who is similarly torn between trust and fear. Throughout the film we have no clear picture of the convict's moral sense or his ultimate fate, which is exactly what keeps things interesting. Should we be rooting for this guy or not? As he's played by Kevin Costner, of course we should (and do); but neither director nor actor is going to make it comfortable for us to do so. Together they turn a standard Hollywood premise into a film devoid of black-and-white characterizations and predictability; A Perfect World is all the more satisfying for it.


First published in a reviews booklet of the ANU Film Group.
This page: 31 January 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1994, 2000 Rory Ewins