A Perfect World

On the run from the Texas Rangers in 1963, an escaped convict (Kevin Costner) develops a close friendship with the seven-year-old boy (T.J. Lowther) he takes hostage. A good two-part character study with a terrific performance by Lowther and fine work by Costner, which should help resuscitate his image after too many Boy Scout projects, this film bogs down when it aims for too much psychology and pathos, and it arrives at a few false moments and more than a few overextended ones; John Lee Hancock’s script has too many good guy/bad guy setups, and the suave period handling doesn’t always extend to the characters’ behavior. But director Clint Eastwood (who also plays the leader of the Rangers) is generally so good at handling narrative, savoring Texas panhandle settings, and molding performances that you aren’t likely to mind much. The critique of macho and flawed father figures that he’s been preoccupied with at least since White Hunter, Black Heart continues to be pungent and thoughtful. With Laura Dern. Ford City, Biograph, Burnham Plaza, Golf Glen, Lincoln Village, Esquire, Evanston, Norridge.

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