A Perfect World ★★★★½

Clint Eastwood A Retrospective - Week 39

Butch (Kevin Costner), a escaped state prisoner from a Texas jail, kidnaps Philip (T.J. Lowther), a young, impressionable boy. As they embark on a trip across the American Southwest together, a surprising bond grows between the convict and his captive, even as law enforcement forces slowly catch up with them. An honorable Texas Ranger, Red Garnett (Clint Eastwood), understands Butch has a heart of gold, but must pursue him anyway out of duty to the law and a desire to protect the child.

Hands down I think this is my favourite Eastwood movie, I liked it originally when it first came out, but since then it’s kinda been forgotten about a little bit, it’s criminally under seen and underrated. 
With so many directorial hits from Clint Eastwood, it's easy to forget about this rough cut gem from 1993 in which Eastwood also has a supporting role. "A Perfect World" takes you through an entire range of human emotion while focusing on a hostage situation in progress. Kevin Costner plays against type as a small time hood who kidnaps an eight year old boy with his partner, and then dispatches the partner when it appears he may have tried to abuse the youngster. Reaching back into his own troubled past, Butch Haynes (Costner), over the course of the picture, attempts to provide his ward Phillip (T.J. Lowther) with the type of surrogate fatherhood that both have lacked in their respective lives.
What makes the story so compelling is the way Butch takes Phillip under his wing as the story progresses. At all times, Butch is a straight shooter, he tells Phillip the truth about the boy's father never coming back and how his mother's lying about it. At an age where he instinctively knows this to be true, Phillip comes to respect and trust the man who in every other respect is a frightening criminal. The telling moment is when Butch takes the boy 'trick or treating', and Phillip makes repeated attempts to hold his hand until Butch relents. That single moment captured the essence of a relationship that was about to turn horribly bad.
This movie made me realise how good Kevin Costner was as an actor, his relationship with the boy is the centrepiece to the entire movie and it hangs on their performances, they are both astounding.
This truly is a compelling story that isn't afraid to be a little different.  It forces one to think about the nature of good and evil, and how they can exist in the same person. It's a movie that you won't easily forget the day after you saw it as is the case with so many pictures relying on shoot 'em up action and a clear cut victory for the good guys.
It’s surprisingly touching for an Eastwood movie, probably his most touching I have seen so far. 
There is very little action and violence  so the action loving crowd are advised this isn't the film for them, but the film never lacks for tension, with the key scene at a black family’s farm as taut as it gets and acted with supreme skill by all involved. This is a throwback type of film, where narrative strength is first and foremost, something that allows actors to work with characters that have depth, to be part of a relationship that is complex and absorbing to the viewer. It's still the most under rated work of Eastwood the director and Costner the actor.

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