Sunday, 10 November 2013

Paper moon

Paper Moon – Peter Bogdanovich – Made in 1973, this film creates a characterful world of parched black and white desolation…in which unlikely companions hit the road! The film is set in 1936 and brilliantly evokes the parched and stretching struggle that was the American depression, with echoes of Steinbeck terrain. An orphaned young girl, with dungaree wearing tomboy features, teams up with a con man that may, or may not be, her father. Tatum O’Neil plays Addie, while her real life father, Ryan O’Neil, plays the con man (Moses Pray). Perhaps the most astounding strength of the film is Tatum O’Neil’s disarmingly convincing and maturely developed character portrayal. Playing a girl of nine and managing to be far more than simply ‘cute’, or superficially comic, is precisely what distinguishes her performance. Paper Moon conjures an entertaining partnership between Moses Pray and Addie, one that provides laughs - though never blunders into embarrassing, farcical or cringe inducing cheese, and additionally has moments of poignancy and moving pathos. The film looks great as well, with clear black and white contrasts and some shots of American landscape that, in their barren and vast geography, stage a Depression-era expressionism. On their capers we encounter a visual palette of shadows, and open sunlit expanse; skeletal trees and wild grassy hillsides; miles of open roads and deserted vistas, and even the carnival-esque bustle of a fairground. 7/10

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