Watched May 31, 2012
Nick Faust’s review:
Stark, high contrast black and white gives the rural midwest, depression locations an authenticity that filters throughout the entire film. Peter Bogdanovich fills each scene with faces that draw us further into this reality. The adventures of nine year old Addie and her (maybe) father, Moses, Tatum and Ryan O'Neil, respectively, emerge this overall landscape, honestly drawn, depicted with the kind of simple details making their relationship one that we enjoy participating in. This reality makes it seem as if the film's comedy is creeping up on us, because the relationship itself is odd and we're constantly focused on its development, not the jokes. Bogdanovich had taken all the lessons learned from the Hollywood greats to heart; digesting the storytelling techniques that made the films that we call "classic" today so potent, special, and, when good, meaningful. He was enormously gifted. So many moments in PAPER MOON, often done in master shots, seem so casual, so matter of fact, it's astounding to realize later just how brilliantly done they are, and how easily they get under our skin while we watch. Ryan O'Neil gave a handful of important performances during his heyday, and this may be the best of them. This door to door grifter is a handsome sight, for sure. An undercurrent of country boy vulnerability seeps through; we get the idea that he's a grifter with with values, and maybe even a kind heart. As he banters with the little Addie, O'Neil makes us see things in the character that Mose probably doesn't realize himself. Tatum holds the screen, without anything in her performance to give away her inexperience as an actress. Addie is smarter than Moses, smarter, in fact, than most of the folks she encounters. And yet she's still a little girl. Together, this real Father and Daughter act create a screen duo that leaves us wanting more when the film ends. Calling PAPER MOON a classic is okay, but I'm inclined to go a bit further in my praise: it is a perfect film.