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A Perfect World
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Reviews & Ratings for
A Perfect World More at IMDbPro »

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110 out of 125 people found the following review useful:

Undervalued a decade ago, this film is better than Eastwood's other heralded directorial efforts.

Author: Sandcat2003 from New York
24 July 2004

Do not confuse any of the archived reviews by national critics labeling this movie as "mediocre" and merely "watchable" as accurate statements. This movie is one of Eastwood's most interesting and controlled efforts behind the camera. There is less blatant scenery chewing in "A Perfect World" than contained in Eastwood's unduly praised "Mystic River." And although "Unforgiven" brought Eastwood an Oscar, "A Perfect World" is much more effective in its employment of Eastwood's usual methodical pacing and his ability create empathy for men who are "bad, but not the worst" of society.

For those that are not Costner-philes, this is one of the few movies that viewers should be unable to find ways to deride Costner as an actor. Costner's performance as Butch is by far the best of his career. Actually, it would be better to note that his performance is nomination worthy (er... was) simply for the fact that I know many people view Costner as a flat actor that is not really on par with other actors of his generation. The scenes between Costner and his young costar are extremely interesting. Butch is given almost all the dialogue because eight-year-old Phillip is more or less a pupil of Butch's (or surrogate son if one thinks of the blatant implications); thus, this movie almost entirely belongs to Costner and the development of his character and he does a pitch perfect job.

The movie itself has some simplicities in its other characters, such as Eastwood's Ranger, Dern's criminologist, and the gaggle of law enforcement personal tracking Costner's character. John Lee Hancock's script is not the strongest when focusing in on their additions to the narrative. Plus there are some overly simplistic social commentaries on the role of the penal system, but those are far outweighed by the mass of the film. And Eastwood works around the few weaknesses of the script much better than he did in Hancock's adaptation of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

Considering that Eastwood is a competent director who has created mostly middling works or has been praised for efforts that are far exceeded by the scripts themselves, such as "Unforgiven" and "Mystic River," "A Perfect World" is quite a good film. Also of note is the cinematography and framing of all the shots. Almost all of Eastwood's films, regardless of the shot and lighting conventions of the genres in which he has worked, are terribly sloppy and poor in their presentation. Jack N. Green has been his longtime cinematographer of choice; therefore, it is not as if a new voice was thrown into the mix adding to the success of this film visually in comparison with Eastwood's other works. Nonetheless, Eastwood succeeds in much of his direction in this film and

Costner's performance makes this film a nice little gem that was undervalued a decade ago.

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80 out of 102 people found the following review useful:

ONE OF THE BEST IN 1993

9/10
Author: Matija Trost from Ljubljana, Slovenija
4 May 2003

And certainly one of the most underrated pictures on IMDB. Why? Beats me, since this is one of the best performances from Costner & Eastwood. Not to mention the others.

Maybe it's the movie a little bit slow at start, but soon we get too see a strong character development, what leads us to the grand finale, where we cheer for the outlaw and his little "partner" (also very good performance by T.J. Lowther). The ending is undoubtedly one of the most touching in the history of cinema.

All in all, Costner did great both as director and actor and he had a winning hand picking up co-actors and screen & music writers. Plus, he made this movie in the nineties era, one of the best, if not the best for Hollywood movies.

That's for it's just pure classic. Just like the Texas landscape where it was taken.

9 out of 10.

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58 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

A Perfect World Is Perfectly Watchable!

8/10
Author: tarryrob from Canada
27 September 2003

Some aspects of this film work better than others, but overall A PERFECT WORLD is a highly watchable film. Kevin Costner delivers a fine performance as escaped convict Butch Haynes. The film primarily focuses on the relationship between Haynes and an innocent 8 year old boy named Phillip whom he kidnaps and befriends (well played by TJ Lowther). Haynes has killed two people thus far and gives the impression of a being a loose cannon, but Eastwood evokes sympathy for the character as the audience learns about Haynes troubled childhood (raised without a father by a prostitute mother - killed a man by the age of 8) and observe his genuine care and concern for the boy. Their relationship is reminiscent of Allan Ladd and the young boy in SHANE. As he slowly feeds us more information about Hayne's history, and lets the audience wrestle with its ambivalent feelings towards Costner's character, Eastwood keeps the film moving with lots of close brushes with the law, car chases and shoot'em ups.

Where the film doesn't work quite is when Eastwood himself is in front of the camera, playing a minor role - Chief Red Garnett - a Texas Ranger who's in charge of Haynes' capture. The primary function of his character, and Laura Dern's (who plays Sally Gerber - a criminologist the Governor forces upon the Chief) in the script is to supply further information about Haynes' past. Unfortunately, Eastwood tries to flesh out the relationship between these characters through antagonistic chauvinist attitudes towards Gerber and creating a power struggle between the two which (big surprise!) over the course of the film, gradually leads to a mutual respect between them! Granted Eastwood and Dern have marquee value - especially Eastwood, are fine in their roles, and, of course, chauvinism was alive and well in 1960's Texas, but I mostly found these minor subplots annoying and unnecessary. It's the scenes and issues focusing on Costner's character that are the life blood of this picture. This criticism aside, Eastwood does a solid job directing, weaving action, suspense and thought provoking human drama into a well knit weave and Costner delivers one of the best acting performances of his career.

7 1/2 out of 10

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61 out of 77 people found the following review useful:

All you Kevin Costner haters out there, WATCH THIS MOVIE!!!

9/10
Author: MovieLuvaMatt from New Jersey
27 July 2003

Kevin Costner's career has been in a downward spiral (to say the least) over recent years. Now it seems like even people who admired him at first are suddenly forfeiting their compliments and jumping on the bandwagon, along with the rest of the Costner haters. Well, I'm not gonna jump on that bandwagon. This movie is sheer proof that Costner is a wonderful actor capable of playing characters of multiple dimensions. Here, he's given the challenge of playing a likable villain, without having us forget that he has criminal tendencies. I'm not condoning criminals, but do you honestly think every criminal in the world is a cold-blooded motherf***er with not a single scruple? They're human beings like everyone else, only they choose to live dishonest lives. In other words, the easy way out--at least that's what they think.

Costner played a completely one-dimensional villain in "3,000 Miles to Graceland," but it was fitting to the tone of that film, which plays out like a comic book fantasy. His character of Butch is much more realistic, and his main scruple is treating children like dirt. He himself was treated like dirt as a child, and whenever he sees mothers or fathers do the same to their children, he goes nuts and sometimes homicidal. A very interesting character, which Costner plays to absolute perfection.

I have a theory about movies. Whenever you have an adult story (excluding children's and family-oriented material) involving a child in a major role, the movie often turns out either good or great. This one turned out great. Good movies come more often than you think. Great movies don't come quite that often. A real motion picture experience is when you get lost in the story to the point where you feel you're right there with the characters, and not sitting on your couch watching these characters on a TV screen. This is one of those experiences.

The film is totally character-driven, which also appeals to me. It took me a journey through the lives of Butch and the young boy. I felt a deep connection to each of them. The ending had me pouring with tears.

I have to give it up for Clint Eastwood, who usually scores behind and in front of the camera. The film runs a little over 2 hours, but when you have solid characters like these the time flies by in a snap. Hell, "Corky Romano" was under 90 minutes long and I may as well as have been watching it for 10 hours. The most powerful scene, in my opinion, is when Butch and the boy stay over the home of the black slave. Butch sees the way the father physically abuses his son, and goes to the extent of tying him down to a couch. He then forces the father to say "I love you" to his son, like he really means it.

"A Perfect World" is a film I'll never forget, and I'm so damn glad I spent my 14.99 to purchase the DVD. I have only one very minor complaint: the guy who plays Philip overacts like crazy in a cartoonish performance.

My score: 9 (out of 10)

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39 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

A Perfect Film

10/10
Author: Aida Nejad from Gothenburg, Sweden
12 October 2007

If you want a fast-paced philosophical drama with quite possibly the saddest ending to a movie you've ever seen, then this is the film for you... A Perfect World drains you emotionally and that's why this amazing film is worth watching once, and not over and over again.

You can't go wrong with a movie directed by Clint Eastwood, who also plays the U.S. Marshal. Kevin Costner gives the greatest performance of his career (except for maybe JFK) and the little boy is played impressively by 7-year-old T.J Lowther. What makes A Perfect World so great is that it's got flaws, but still manages to hold you glued to your TV and make you not want to miss a thing. Be ready to laugh, cry and ponder upon what life would be if we lived in a perfect world.

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36 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

the grandson of "Hunted"

8/10
Author: dbdumonteil
19 December 2005

In 1952, Charles Crichton had produced a successful suspenseful movie with a derivative premise: a man (an excellent Dirk Bogarde) compelled to take a brat hostage with him because he was the witness of his murder and to flee with him across Britain to escape the police. This journey had brought the two runaways together and Bogarde eventually felt real love and care for his young hostage. Crichton (I find it hard to believe that it's the same man who 36 years later will cook "a Fish Called Wanda", 1988!) had construed his topic with a lot of reserve and sensitivity which bestowed his wonderful piece of work with pathos and tenderness.

40 years later, Clint Eastwood, freshly showered with praise for his dusky "Unforgiven" (1992) takes back this formula for a flick which basically was to be directed by Steven Spielberg but the latter had a lot to do with "Schindler's List" (1994), probably his finest moment. The amount was "a Perfect World" (1993) and it deserves better than the lukewarm reviews it received and stands as a winner in Eastwood's eclectic filmography. In spite of a few installments in its second part that one can deem as overlong, it has enough commendable stuff to grab the audience.

First, Eastwood's vehicle is helped by the work of John Lee Hancock who 4 years later will pen the scenario for another Eastwood flick: "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" (1997). Because it eschews the formulaic ingredients of the movie genre, "a Perfect World" deals with and it encompasses various tones: from the droll moments Kevin Costner goes through with his young hostage to gripping scenes which incommodes the audience (the scene when Costner holds the black family in their living room with a song he hadn't heard for years), the script takes the viewer by surprise. It's true that suspense takes a back seat during most of the viewing but Eastwood's flick has other stuff in store. In the favorable reviews, it has been said that the relationships between Costner and his young partner were highly interesting. From their first confrontation, Costner has an evident interest in the little boy, a nagging curiosity that will grow throughout his run. In this way, his attitude, at least in the outset of the film is quite different from Bogarde's. The latter realizing that he has no other choice to take his brat with him expresses at first hostility and scorn before starting to get interested in him. Not Costner who is clearly interested with his hostage from the outset and for whom he feels affection. In the two flicks, the little boys may see in Bogarde and Costner the father figures they never had. Their households are characterized by an absence of father. As for Costner, he unveils to his partner, scraps of his anterior life which might explain one of his attitudes towards him. Maybe, he tries to play his role of father and this way to get close to him: "we have a lot of things in common you and me: we love Coke, we never had father". He wants to make him discover a new life, a freer and more maverick one in which anything goes (he asks him to write the things he craves to do).

Nature plays a momentum role in "a Perfect World": it surrounds the characters and is of a vivacious green which symbolizes bliss and hope. In this perfect world, the two main protagonists try to search for support, friendship, bliss but impending danger waits around the corner.

Eastwood's flick was also decried because the other sequences of the film in which Eastwood and his crew appear were rather weak. I don't think so. True the character of Laura Dern is a little formulaic but in one sequence the most important members offer their vision of a perfect world. And even if here he doesn't hold the main role, Clint Eastwood has a prime secondary part. The cast is a major asset of the film. The little boy is directed with care and respect and Eastwood gave Costner his last great hour, given the duds in which he acted afterward: the horrible "Waterworld" (1995), a waste of money and time and the insipid "Postman" (1997).

Coming after a pinnacle in his career, "Unforgiven", I feel that Eastwood wasn't hampered by this critical and commercial triumph and broke new ground in the fugitive movie with this startling piece of work. Give this movie a chance. It deserves it. And if you have the chance to see "Hunted", don't think twice. Eastwood's flick compares favorably with its 40 year old model. And after the projection, try to ask yourself this question: what is a perfect world?

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27 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

An average story made good by quality acting

9/10
Author: Andrew Nixon (orders@andrewnixon.com) from Santa Barbara, CA
16 October 2002

An average story made good by quality acting. Kevin Costner turned in one of his best performances. Just as his character would start to win you over because of his positive interactions with the boy, he'd do something awful and remind you that he's really a bad guy and that he'd taken the boy hostage. So even though he's a criminal, he's got a good side and obviously his bad upbringing took him down the wrong path in life. I though TJ Lowther was also excellent as the boy and was very believable. On the other side is Clint Eastwood as the tough law man who cares more about catching his criminal than making his bosses happy. And last, but not least, Laura Dern was also very good as Clint's cohort in catching the bad guy. While Clint relies on his years of experience, she comes from the psychological side and what she's read in books. They often disagree, but there is a mutual respect between them even if they don't show it. There are enough light moments to keep this otherwise serious movie from being a turn off.

*** (Out of 4)

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24 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Waltz Across Texas

Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas
20 June 2006

An intelligent and resourceful prison escapee named Butch Haynes (Kevin Costner) takes an eight-year-old boy (T.J. Lowther) hostage, as Haynes roams across Texas in the early 1960s. Meanwhile, the authorities, headed by a Texas Ranger (Clint Eastwood), set out to capture Haynes, in an Airstream trailer.

Costner does a fine job as Haynes, an interesting character who happens to like waltz music. Lowther is equally good in his role, a boy who comes from a family whose religious beliefs are quite strict. On their sojourn, the boy acquires, and sometimes wears, a Casper-the-friendly-ghost mask, a symbol of childhood innocence that contrasts nicely with the seriousness of a dangerous hostage situation.

The relationship between Haynes and the kid evolves into a kind of father-son union, wherein Haynes does most of the talking, and the kid reacts, usually with clever, nonverbal expressions. It's a good acting arrangement that plays up the strengths of both actors. It's the best element of the film.

Throughout their odyssey, a collection of oldies pop songs helps to capture the early 1960's era, though I could have wished that the volume had been turned up. Haynes' goal is Alaska, but he doesn't quite get there, and the film ends much more interestingly than it began.

The main problem with the film is the plot. It gets off to a hokey, contrived start. And, throughout the film, the law enforcement component does not work at all. It comes across as stereotyped, irritating, unnecessary, and it is not funny despite attempts to make it funny. You get the feeling you're watching reruns of "The Dukes Of Hazard", especially with that corny trailer.

Even so, the film is worth watching, for the acting accomplishments of Costner and Lowther, and for the interesting dialogue that takes place between their two characters.

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30 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

A Perfect World; An Idealistic Movie

10/10
Author: LivingDog from NYC, NY
6 February 2005

Excellent movies have everything right with them - from the scenery to the director. This movie has it all except the plot is too idealistic for my taste. Granted a story can have any plot the author decides, but this one plays on false stereotypes just like other Hollywood movies, e.g. the "noble" savage. (There is no such thing - individuals may be noble, but not an entire nation. This is why "To Kill a Mocking Bird" is so powerful - the main noble character is surrounded by real people - at least as real as a movie will allow them to be.) And so it doesn't go with "A Perfect World." The main character is surrounded by louts brutes and ignoramuses.

However, was the movie entertaining? Was it well directed, cast, acted, and lit? You bet. One of Mr. Eastwood's best. 10/10.

-Zafoid

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24 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Bonnie & Clyde (1967), Thelma & Louise (1991), and now Butch & Buzz (1993)

6/10
Author: Cihan Sean Victorydawn Vercan (CihanVercan) from Ottawa, Canada
25 September 2008

Costner and Eastwood confront each other in A Perfect World with a very ordinarily written cat and rat movie. We've seen the same plot many times before and after 1993. Eastwood plays the cat, and Costner does the rat. However, Eastwood directs it at a high emotional level; giving its viewers much inspiration of love and joy, offering a great deal of fun and humour, especially pointing the importance of family. To the effect that, the title should have been "A PERFECT FAMILY" or "A PERFECT FATHER". I'm sure though, Eastwood must have considered these options of titling the movie. If he chose to go with "A PERFECT WORLD"; for me, it means that even a shifty criminal man can raise a child better than a moralist bona fide housekeeper can, at some point.

The story takes place in 1960s' Texas. Butch(Costner) is an escaped convict out of a perforce criminal. After he and his partner escape from prison, they begin to outlaw the law. As a celebration of their freedom, they supersede their own law of crime. They first planned to escape to Mexico, but the plans changed when they kidnapped a 8 year old boy. Butch's partner doesn't like the boy as he likes. So they break with each other, and Butch stays with the boy. When the Texas police are alerted of the kidnapping, police chief Garnett(Eastwood) and his officers start to chase Butch to rescue the boy. Whereas, the boy finds Butch close to him both as a hero in his dreams and as a father in his heart. The time when Butch takes the boy to buy him new clothes, which he chose to wear Casper costume, Butch names the kid Buzz. Butch wants him to be happy for he has never had the chance to be before; and Buzz turns out to be cheery as he found a daemon turning his wishes into reality. Together they formed a legendary couple like Bonnie&Clyde, like Thelma&Louise and the same bottom line was awaiting for them as Bonnie&Clyde, as Thelma&Louise.

A Perfect World is truly an Eastwood classic. His style of script, his style of action, his style of simplicity and the love of the guns for sure loom large. Fundamentally like every Eastwood movie out of A Perfect World we obtain an opinion. So we never regret seeing A Perfect World for one time. This would be a good choice to watch with your whole family together.

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