A Perfect World: Clint Eastwood’s Forgotten Masterpiece
Clint Eastwood is back on his old form I hear. Yup. His latest movie Richard Jewell is gaining praise for being his best piece of work (as a director) in a decade and well… I’m not surprised by the old man.
He can really deliver when he put his mind into. You know, when he’s not pushing some political agenda down our throats. But, before we dive into the marvel that apparently is Richard Jewell let’s back up a minute to a much simpler times. Back in the early 90’s when delivering a good hardy and thought provoking movie was something that you expected him to do. You weren’t surprised by a good Clint Eastwood movie. You grew accustomed to a good Clint Eastwood movie. Needless to say, we were spoiled by Clint in the early 90’s, and that’s a fact.
By then he established himself as a screen icon, and he dabbled into different genres as well. His directorial efforts were strong and you just knew what you were getting yourself into when you walked in that movie theater. Greatness.
And a little gem form the early 90’s best represents that greatness. A little movie called A Perfect World. Written by John Lee Hancock and starring Kevin Costner in the lead role, A Perfect World is Clint’s most underrated and least known movie. He’s in it too of course, but in a supporting role, and that bracket is filled an additional and fantastic line-up of great actors like Laura Dern, Bruce McGill, Bradley Whitford, and the adorable T.J. Lowther. His performance in this movie is one of the best I’ve seen from child actors in…. Well ever.
But the premise of A Perfect World is much complicated and so was the production (considering that the movie had a budget of only 30 million dollars). The majority of the movie was shot on open locations (making it a road movie in its essence) and it has Kevin Costner in the role of Robert “Butch” Haynes. Anti-hero like no other to be honest. Butch is an escaped convict that will end up with eight-year-old Phillip Perry (T.J. Lowther) in his care. What will start as a hostage will end up as a father-son bond coming from the most unlikely circumstances imaginable. Seriously. The film won much praise for its emotional depth and accurate depiction of the psychology of hostage situations, and in the child psychology in such situations as well. Kevin Costner’s subtly nuanced and beautiful portrayal of the escaped convict was the absolute cornerstone of the film’s success and has been hailed as one of the actor’s finest performances to date. Kevin Costner at his best.
But the thing is… The movie did age like a fine wine. And it gets better with each viewing. It’s still to this day as emotional, heart-breaking, tense and nerve-wrecking as ever. On and in the years since its release, the film has been acclaimed by critics as one of Eastwood’s most satisfying (albeit underrated) directorial efforts in his entire career. Man… the scenes between the convict (Costner) and his young captive (T. J. Lowther) are some of the most delicately crafted sequences in all of Eastwood’s body of work, and they’re a pleasure to watch every single time. So much so, that even Cahiers du cinema selected A Perfect World as the best film of 1993. It’s the only movie to date in which Kevin and Clint have collaborated together, and it’s one of Eastwood’s favorite movies (that he directed) as well.
Watch A Perfect World if you have the chance. It’s still soooo good. You’re going to be moved, thrilled and you’re going to cry your eyeballs out. It’s truly a master-piece and an almost forgotten Clint Eastwood 90’s gem. I highly recommend it.