Paranoid Park

A teenage skateboarder has a run-in with a security guard that results in the man’s death. Confused, fearful, and evasive, the teen wanders the streets of Portland as his life takes a turn for the worse in director Gus Van Sant’s screen adaptation of author Blake Nelson’s grim coming-of-age tome. Alex is a withdrawn 16-year-old boy who has recently discovered Paranoid Park — a massive skate park in Portland. The Portland skate punks built Paranoid Park so they could have a place to cruise the concrete without being hassled by the cops. One day, after befriending a local skater and anarchist at the park, Alex decides that a little adventure might be just the thing to help him forget about his problems back home. When Alex and his new friend attempt to hop a train and a security guard gives chase, tragedy strikes so quickly that the two teens are barely able to comprehend what has just happened. In the aftermath of the fatal accident, one man is robbed of life and two teens are left to ponder the consequences of their youthful recklessness. Alex doesn’t think that anyone will believe him if he explains how events really unfolded that night, but why would anyone have cause to think he wasn’t telling the truth in the first place? As the police launch an investigation into the death and Alex begins to express himself in a deeply personal diary, the audience is able to experience the pain and confusion of adolescence from the perspective of a young boy who was only seeking to escape from reality when suddenly confronted by the concept of mortality.


A teenage art-flick, Paranoid Park proves the most fluent and coherent of Gus Van Sant’s recent experiments. Part crime mystery, part coming-of-age story, it’s positively overflowing with burnished imagery and adolescent turmoil.

Official Site | Wikipedia | IMDbReview (English) | Review (Deutsch)


24 thoughts on “Paranoid Park”

  1. Gus Vant Sant’s new masterpiece. One of the best movies ever made about teenage boys.

  2. Not everything that wants to be regarded as artsy stuff has real substance. Even as someone who liked Drugstore Cowboy, My own private Idaho and Elephant, I have to say: Paranoid Park is one boring ass flick, who tries to cover its paper thin plot with overlong slowmos of depressed skater boys. I may understand van Sants urge to hang around gorgeous skater guy, but please do some fetish porn instead of crappy movies like these. There isnt even enough going on to make up for a short movie, let alone a feature film. And the boy cant act. Some US-Critic wrote: the voice overs suggest that reading aloud is not something that comes naturaly to the amateur actor, and thats right on the mark. If you need a excuse to gaze at underage teen boys watch Elephant, at least it offers some insights and idead. Paranoid Park is just one overblown bore, where you cant get rid of the feeling that van Sant had more fun shooting, than the audience has watching…

    1. “If you need a excuse to gaze at underage teen boys watch Elephant, at least it offers some insights and idead.”

      no, nononono! if you want to watch underage boys just for visual pleasures take Gus’s _Ken Park_ or _Kids_ ! _Ken Park_ is very visual and so on…

  3. I think I want to watch this now! It’s garnered a 7.2 on IMDB, so it can’t be that bad.

  4. Transformers shows 7.5 at the imdb – that should tell you something, about the credibility of user-votes ;)

    “Van Sant’s … adoration of uncommunicative kids with limited vocabularies and awesome hair is beginning to wear a little thin.”

    “Regarding Paranoid Park as an elongated short rather than a feature helps a bit, because it’s a miniature in spirit — a small-format portrait of psychic malaise that just happens to last 84 minutes.”

  5. hey batz:
    I for one tink this flic is good. Not only is it a atmospheric visual maserpiece, but it also has one of the best soundtracks of any film I’ve seen in the last few years. It’s not a “crappy movie” because you can’t appreciate visual cinematography, it’s not only just about beatuful boys, it also captured a feeling of alienation, perhaps teenage disaffection of the adult world- visualised by the blurry, out of focus or frame parents of the main actor. The boy is not a bad actor, but a ingenious representation of that uncertain age.
    Or you can read it as an analogy to a gay initiation, like Amy Taubin did.
    It’s not “boring ass”, it’s a piece of art that’s probably only enjoyable with a more sophisticated approach on cinema than the usual “Here I am now, entertain me!”
    “Oh no, there’s no linear plotline to catch my attention. Damn, I don’t understand it on the first viewing, so I guess it sucks!”
    You have got to put some effort into your viewing, or you will be endlessly disappointed of any film that’s even a tiny bit demanding
    If you have got no knowledge, no standpoint, no point of view as a somehow educated viewer, then no film can reach you. I’d say, in this case the art is in the eye of the beholder.

  6. @ kollio:
    “I’d say, in this case the art is in the eye of the beholder.”

    I agree, but this basic truth goes both ways. Just because someone doesn’t like a film, an actor, a plot line or whatever, that doesn’t mean he didn’t put effort into viewing or couldn’t grasp the so-called depth of the movie. Your reaction to anonther opinion about the flick (and that’s all it is in the end – another opinion) was to be condescending, which was uncalled for.

    Art is a tricky thing and not everyone will relate to or appreciate the same things.

  7. We have some friends who did not like Paranoid Park at all. We can understand that some people like Batz find this movie boring. It is not an easy movie to get into. You may feel the same for a movie like Wild Tigers I Have Known… There are both real works of art but you may be not sensible to it.

  8. Its way to easy to bash someone who don’t likes the picture as someone who is too dumb to understand it. But maybe it’s the other way around: Not everything that dresses up as deep and thoughtful really has to be. People often are easily impressed by fancy and somewhat stylish pictures. And the tendency to defend flicks that are plain boring as real great art, just because there are some nice boys to look at, is widespread among a certain peer group. Last Days was a boring and quite overblown movie too, but because there wasnt any cuties in it, a lot less people seemed to care and rush to its defence. And sorry but the teen alienation-bandwagon has be driven to death, there are movies galore who keep telling you how hard it is to be a teen and yadda yadda yadda – and frankly most of them are better than paranoid park. its not as if van sant has anything new to tell here. even the watchable elephant fades in comparrison with the much better Zero Day.
    Wild tigers… as it is mentioned, is a flawed movie, but its also a very watchworthy one. Its way from perfect, but is has a certain creepiness and keeps you involved. you really do give a shit about the protagonist. in paranoid park there is nothing that suggest that the boy has anything besides his looks, that makes him attetionworthy, intelligent or even remotely interesting. he’s a bore and not a very likeable one. i’d compare the movie to the graffiti artist, a similar boring flick which also focuses on quite stupid people that cant articulate properly and whose stories I couldnt care less for. I’ll rather watch Whole New thing or Tarnation for the 10th time before enduring these flicks again…

  9. Watched it yesterday on DVD. Good movie, really sensitive.
    And I must say; beautifull boys and some nice shirtless shots!

  10. I watched the movie and I’d have to say it’s pretty bland. The dead pan performance by the lead didn’t really work in my opinion and as mentioned the story itself was pretty thin. If they were just trying to sell it on mood then I think that approach failed. Maybe it would make a good music video? but compared to something like ‘kids’ or ‘a whole new thing’ it didn’t measure up.

  11. i usually don’t comment for the sake of dissing something (in this case a movie) but after watching this movie i felt that i just have too.

    I watched it with a few friends at my pad, we all thought it was very boring. Awkward pauses never ended (felt the same way about wild tigers i have known). There isn’t even much skating.

    Don’t rent this movie

    its just my take on it. other people seem to be enjoying it.

    each to his/her own

  12. HEY does anyone know how to get a free copy of this? I cant find it at the movie store to rent. is there a torrent somewhere?

  13. now that ive looked at the movie Im conflicted. the boys were gorgeous. And I know someone said he couldn’t act.. but I DO know several teen boys that are so emotionally retarded that they CANT sort out how they feel. They end up sounding JUST like this kid with his dead pan delivery.

    Adding the death of the Guard was pointless in my opinion. I thought it would be a device to help this kid grow up. instead he just talks about it and never does anything about it. This would have been a perfect NORMAL view in the life of a teenager if they’d taken out the killing Guard thing.

    Thats just my take on it.

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