Gus Van Sant continues his odyssey through the inner landscapes of wayward youths with Paranoid Park,a film of ambitious formal invention and negligible impact. In tellingthe story of a skater kid (Gabe Nevins) trying to cope with hisinvolvement in a horrible tragedy, Van Sant once again turns toexpressive slow motion to isolate and extend moments of great emotionalturbulence. All of this is very lyrical, some of it strikingly so (theace cinematographer is Christopher Doyle), but for all the time spentwith this uncomprehending lad, the film never reaches beyond theobvious.
Snow Angels marks another step in the devolution of David Gordon Green, the promising young director of George Washington, who with each successive film seems to shed the qualities that made him interesting in the first place. His scenario, a small town gripped with grief over a recent tragedy, promises much, delivers much less. We also get something we haven’t yet seen from Green—mild condescension toward his characters (though they are sensitively acted by all). The ill-judged ending, in which a character does an extremely desperate deed, doesn’t come across as honest. The trick is to make the final moments seem both excessive and unavoidable. In Green’s hands it only seems like a filmmaker’s conceit.