A murder mystery of sorts – a how done it rather than a who done it – Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park relies heavily on Christopher Doyle’s cinematography and Rain Kathy Li’s capturing of the graceful art of skateboarding rather than any true dramatic progression. Teen skateboarder Alex accidentally kills a security guard near street skate area Paranoid Park and opts to cast a silence over the entire incident.
Solid as a translation of disenfranchised youth and their collective sub-cultures, Paranoid Park’s visuals are astounding. Yet the lack of a hook – a moment of tension, a fascinating character, a questionable moment – makes for a generally alienating experience. Although the swerving plot allows for a tale that partially down to individual analysis, Paranoid Park still feels like a missed opportunity; that clever narrative device and the undeniably sumptuous photography hinting at a greatness that Van Sant has failed to deliver as a whole.