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Perfect World (A)

This movie's prison break, hostage-taking, chase across Texas, two murders, robberies, and confrontation between a fugitive and the law are really about deeper matters: the true nature of violence, and how adults learn from children. Two strong, silent American icons face each other: Butch Haynes (Costner) was a young convict given an unfair sentence to put him out of the way; Red Garnett (Eastwood) was involved, but never felt right about it. Both men know the chase is secondary to resolving old ills. Hancock's screenplay and Eastwood's direction offer strange, quiet truths, subtlety, and sadness. Eastwood's direction is rarely taken seriously because he's an actor, but any director would be proud of this film.

Haynes and another convict escape, invade a woman's home, and take her 9- or 10-year-old son Phillip (Lowther) hostage. The other con leaves Haynes and the boy to travel Texas back roads with Garnett pursuing in an Airglide trailer - "mobile command headquarters" - with a sinister federal marksman who believes Haynes is a desperate kidnapper, and a never-silent crime expert (Dern).

An unpredictable relationship grows between the outlaw and the boy. Butch, we learn, was treated badly as a boy. Now a man driving a boy he doesn't know through dusty, 1963 Texas, he looks at him hard, to see what it means to be a boy, to learn the right and wrong way to talk to one, seeing himself in Phillip.

In a key scene, Butch and Phillip shelter for the night with a friendly black farmer (Haynes), who slaps his son for misbehaving. Butch reacts so angrily we learn the real point of the movie: Children treated cruelly perpetrate violence. In unexpected scenes - Butch lets Phillip hold a gun for odd reasons you'll think about for a long time, we see a runaway trailers, Halloween masks, and barbecued steaks - tension is relieved.

"A Perfect World" has depth, thought, and freedom of an art film. You might think of "Bonnie and Clyde," "Badlands," or an unsung masterpiece from earlier in 1993, "Kalifornia," because those, too, explore what crime really means.
Director(s): Clint Eastwood
Writer(s): John Lee Hancock
Cast: Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, T.J. Lowther, Laura Dern
Release Date: 1993   
Keyword: Escaped convict takes boy hostage; Texas Rangers; Clint East
Target Age: 13+   Category: other
Documentary: no
Language: English   Reviewer's Name: Micah
Review: http://MRQE
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