Kevin Costner's career has been in a downward spiral (to say the least) over recent years. Now it seems like even people who admired him at first are suddenly forfeiting their compliments and jumping on the bandwagon, along with the rest of the Costner haters. Well, I'm not gonna jump on that bandwagon. This movie is sheer proof that Costner is a wonderful actor capable of playing characters of multiple dimensions. Here, he's given the challenge of playing a likable villain, without having us forget that he has criminal tendencies. I'm not condoning criminals, but do you honestly think every criminal in the world is a cold-blooded motherf***er with not a single scruple? They're human beings like everyone else, only they choose to live dishonest lives. In other words, the easy way out--at least that's what they think.
Costner played a completely one-dimensional villain in "3,000 Miles to Graceland," but it was fitting to the tone of that film, which plays out like a comic book fantasy. His character of Butch is much more realistic, and his main scruple is treating children like dirt. He himself was treated like dirt as a child, and whenever he sees mothers or fathers do the same to their children, he goes nuts and sometimes homicidal. A very interesting character, which Costner plays to absolute perfection.
I have a theory about movies. Whenever you have an adult story (excluding children's and family-oriented material) involving a child in a major role, the movie often turns out either good or great. This one turned out great. Good movies come more often than you think. Great movies don't come quite that often. A real motion picture experience is when you get lost in the story to the point where you feel you're right there with the characters, and not sitting on your couch watching these characters on a TV screen. This is one of those experiences.
The film is totally character-driven, which also appeals to me. It took me a journey through the lives of Butch and the young boy. I felt a deep connection to each of them. The ending had me pouring with tears.
I have to give it up for Clint Eastwood, who usually scores behind and in front of the camera. The film runs a little over 2 hours, but when you have solid characters like these the time flies by in a snap. Hell, "Corky Romano" was under 90 minutes long and I may as well as have been watching it for 10 hours. The most powerful scene, in my opinion, is when Butch and the boy stay over the home of the black slave. Butch sees the way the father physically abuses his son, and goes to the extent of tying him down to a couch. He then forces the father to say "I love you" to his son, like he really means it.
"A Perfect World" is a film I'll never forget, and I'm so damn glad I spent my 14.99 to purchase the DVD. I have only one very minor complaint: the guy who plays Philip overacts like crazy in a cartoonish performance.
My score: 9 (out of 10)