Sleuth

Gabe Levins, Daniel Liu, Taylor Momsen and Jake Miller. Directed by Gus Van Sant
Running Time: 81 mins.
Rated: Rated M (disturbing image, themes, sexual references, and coarse language)

Gus Van Sant has been making smaller, more 'cinematic' films in recent years, after his Golden Palm win in Cannes with Elephant (Gerry, Last Days). Here he is back in school, this time amongst a group of skateboarders. At a railway yard near a popular park, nicknamed Paranoid Park because it had an unsavoury reputation, a security guard has been killed on the adjoining railway tracks. Has one of the skateboarders been responsible? The police come to the school to question and get background for their investigation.

Van Sant focuses on teenager, Alex (Gabe Levins), who we discover is writing a story about the park and skating. It emerges early enough in the film that Alex is responsible. What Van Sant does well is re-create the world of the adolescent, broken family and almost absent parents, friends, sexual experimentation (all with a soundtrack of relevant songs and Nino Rota/Fellini score, and with Christopher Doyle's realistic and stylised camerawork).

What we see is an ordinary young boy who is completely self-absorbed, has no sense of compassion for the victim, never thinking about him and with little conscience. This makes the film arresting to look at and listen to and very disturbing about contemporary moral sense.

Madman Out March 6

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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