A Perfect World (1993) Directed by Clint Eastwood. With Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, T.J Lowther, Bradley Whitford and Laura Dern.
Being a sucker for any half-decent road movie, I was always predestined to embrace this one. What’s surprising is that it has taken me all of nineteen-years to get round to it. My school report should read: “Must do better!”.
I’ve always found Kevin Costner to be an agreeable screen presence and it’s here, at the height of his stardom on top billing that he’s at his best. Costner plays Robert ‘Butch‘ Haynes, an escaped convict – who due to a botched robbery ends up kidnapping ‘Buzz’ , a young boy (T.J Lowther) with whom he forms an unlikely mutual bond.
Although there’s an inherent darkness to proceedings, there’s also a balance of sweetness. They form the kind of father-son relationship, that, as the film unfolds, we learn Costner’s character never had – enabling us to feel sympathetic toward him amid the crime spree. Later in the film, that sympathy is tested as it’s revealed how emotionally damaged Costner is. To the boy, the whole thing is an exciting adventure – as it’s highlighted early on that his religious background has kept him excluded. Costner on the other hand seems to treat the escapade as therapy for the upbringing he never had. He constantly gives the boy choices and at no stage does it feel like a dangerous hostage situation
As with all the better Clint Eastwood directed films, it’s stylistically unfussy with emphasis on building a strong relationship between audience and character. Eastwood himself is a great presence in the film – playing a law-man trying to keep a steady head, and shares some good screen time with Laura Dern. The screenplay also deserves a nod as it serves up some fun interplay dialogue and observations. Some very minor flaws push the limits of credibility, one in particular involving Buzz behind the wheel of a car and some expert last-minute breaking – but it’s small potatoes against what is a heartfelt and touching experience. 3.5/5