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Paranoid Park DVD Review

Updated on October 21, 2015

No One to Turn To

This is the story of 16 year-old Alex (Gabe Nevins) whose immature parents are divorcing and have no time to give him. His acquaintances are all consumed with sex and with behaving in a manner older than their years, so they are incapable of real conversation. Alex is a boy whose "girlfriend" sees him as a conquest. He is a boy who has one friend, Macy (Lauren McKinney) who actually cares about him. Alex's  one boyish love is skateboarding.

Alex is a boy who has no coping skills and no support network and no idea what to do about the fact that he has accidentally killed a man.

Teens are Children!

I care about Alex. His motivations are ambiguous, but I think this is because a real boy would have ambiguous motivations in this situation. With all of the terrible things that were happening in his life that he was supposed to be taking in stride, it was hard to look at Alex knowing that his parents, teachers and friends were not seeing him as a child.

The actor, Gabe Nevins, had an innocence and a vulnerability that just made me think, "This is a child! This is just a little child!" every time I looked at him.

A Skate Kid's Life Turns Upside-Down

Photographer: cbonanno:
Photographer: cbonanno:

Alone in the World...

Clearly, no one in his life thought of him this way. His ne'er do well Dad talks with him about the divorce as if he were a peer. His cowardly mom teeters at the foot of the stairs to his basement room (where he sleeps on a mattress on the floor and lives out of a suitcase) unwilling to take a few steps into the room or ask a few more questions to find out what might be wrong. His acquaintances and predatory girlfriend talk about nothing but sex. His little brother recites an entire lengthy scene from Napoleon Dynamite word-for-word in a monotonous sing-song while Alex sits, shell-shocked in the aftermath of what he has done, mutely unable to say what he needs to say and almost completely alone in the world. Others see him as they need him to be; even though, he is just a child.

Calm & Controlled

A Haunting Movie

An interesting novel...

A Captivating Soundtrack!

The music was a delight. The soundtrack to this movie is offbeat and quirky and contains everything from rap to classical.

  1. Il White Lady Loves You More - Smith Elliott
  2. Giardino Delle Fate - Rota Nino
  3. I Can Help - Swan Billy
  4. Tunnelmouth Blues - Davies Henry
  5. Outlaw - Cast King
  6. Strongest Man in the World - Menomena
  7. La I Heard That - Scott Terrance
  8. Porticina Segreta - Rota Nino
  9. L' We Will Revolt - Ramires José
  10. Arcobaleno Per Giuletta - Rota Nino
  11. Symphony N°9 "Choral" 4. - Beethoven Ludwig V
  12. La Song One - Rose Ethan
  13. Chambre Blanche - Normandeau Robert
  14. Walk Through (Resonant Landscape) N°2 - White Frances

Each song tells you something about the scene and the characters in it. All are just a little bit jarring in the setting. You think about the music - just enough.


The movie was also filmed in a very interesting manner. Adults were almost never fully in the frame or fully in focus - with two exceptions - the man Alex accidentally kills and the police officer who could and would help if Alex would only let him. These two and Alex's one true teen friend who actually cares about him are also the only characters in the movie who ever make extended eye-contact with Alex.

I was astounded by the plot of this movie. It was arresting, engaging, original and unique. The young characters were realistic. The ending - the resolution - was a total surprise; although, there is really no other way the movie could have realistically ended. It is definitely not a Hollywood ending. When I turned off my DVD player the first time I saw Paranoid Park, I felt that I had never seen anything like it. I needed to see it again, and I watched the very next day. That was several months ago, and I have thought of the movie many times since. I plan to see it again soon, but I want to read the novel first.

Five Stars

On a scale of 1-5, I would give this movie 5 stars. This 2007 drama was directed by Gus Van Sant (Elephant, Drugstore Cowboy, Gerry, and Private Idaho )and is a Cannes Film Festival 60th Anniversary Prize winner. Although it is based on a teen novel of the same name (by Blake Nelson) I would not recommend it for young teens.

I think one should be over 16 to watch this movie and should have a parent present for discussion afterwards. This is a film that raises a lot of issues and could be the catalyst for many meaningful and important discussions.

Ten Points for Interest!

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say this movie is a definite "10" for holding my interest. In fact, it still holds my interests months after viewing! Initially, the skateboarding scenes were a little boring for me, but when I saw them in the context of the movie, I came to appreciate them. I believe the dream of mastering this skill gave Alex some hope of having control in his world.

How would you rate Paranoid Park?

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Something to Think About...

I would recommend this movie to any other adult. I would even recommend it to adults I know would hate it. The reason is, I don't think it is possible to watch this movie and forget all about it. In the back of your mind, you will keep turning it over and over looking for the key that unlocks it completely, but you will never find it. This is a slice of life movie that is unlike any other. It is an eye-opener into the way our self - interested adult society is shaping the youth of today without even thinking about it.

I would recommend this movie to other adults because it is something we need to think about.


Submit a Comment

  • justmesuzanne profile image

    justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

    Thanks! Yes! It's terrific! :)

  • profile image

    Iphigenia 8 years ago

    God review of a non-mainstream film, the sort that should do better. I saw this last year at Cannes and can recommend it.

  • justmesuzanne profile image

    justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

    Thanks, Elena! The filming isn't annoying. I noticed it right away because I look out for that kind of thing, but I read lots of reviews by people who didn't notice it at all and were quite sensitive to the rest of the movie and its message.

    What is really astounding about this movie is that none of the adults are exactly doing anything "wrong". They are present. They talk at Alex. There's food in the house. No one hits him or yells at him. But still, he has no real connection with any adult in his life and hardly any with his peers. And that seems to be the status quo.

    I hope you will watch it! :)

  • Elena. profile image

    Elena. 8 years ago from Madrid

    Suzanne, I never even heard of this one before. The way you describe how it's shot, I'm not sure it's up my alley, BUT the content most certainly is, it seems a thought provoking film on the aillments young kids may face nowadays, inability to cope, lack of support from parents that are too immature and self centered, the feeling of inadequacy and not fitting in... I'll keep an eye out for this one, thanks!