“It’s like The Hills, but with skater kids,” said my boyfriend last night on the dialogue of Paranoid Park. On one hand, this is a spot-on comparison. On the other, Gus Van Sant’s tense teen drama is much closer to a work of genius than the musings of Lauren Conrad.
Paranoid Park follows a 16-year-old kid from Portland in the days surrounding a mysterious murder by the legendary skate park. Snippets of conversations and disordered sequences create a chaotic environment that a mellow overlay of ambient music balances perfectly. The soundtrack is a brilliant mix of Nino Roto (of Fellini’s films) and Portland natives like Elliot Smith and Menomena.
Slow, staggered speech and an abundance of ‘ums’ and ‘likes’ give the exchanges in Paranoid Park that ‘Je ne sais quois’ of Heidi and Spencer, but in the context of a dark and dreary high school far from Orange County, the technique seems incredibly realistic. It also gives ample time to focus on the gorgeous long takes that Gus Van Sant scatters about. The film retains the confusion and discomfort of adolescence without slipping into angsty territory— a commendable feat.
Paranoid Park makes an excellent rainy day rental, so traipse on over to the Videotheque— this weekend calls for showers.