Starring: Ryan O’Neal, Tatum O’Neal, Madeline Kahn
Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Running Time: 102 mins
Paper Moon is an American film about a con man who travels across two states with a young girl who may or may not be his daughter. On their journey, the pair form an unusual bond.
I rather enjoyed this movie. Complete with a sharp screenplay that features some brilliant dark comedy and captivating drama, Paper Moon is as gripping a watch as it is entertaining, above all thanks to a dynamite lead duo in father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O’Neal.
Playing two characters who may or may not be related after the death of the young girl’s mother, Ryan and Tatum O’Neal are actually father and daughter in real life, and their innate chemistry works so well, and is easily the highlight of the whole film.
Tatum O’Neal in particular, playing the young girl, is absolutely brilliant from start to finish, with a hard-as-nails attitude that perfectly fits the film’s entertaining cynical outlook on the world. Alongside her father, who is both entertaining and offers a little more emotional resonance, Tatum O’Neal gives one of the best child performances you’ll see on film.
Thanks to their chemistry, the film’s road trip comedy style works really well, while the individual performances play in nicely to the story’s darker overtones. There are times when Paper Moon has a whiff of Harold And Maude about it, albeit not quite as morbid, but just as capable in its combination of darkly hilarious comedy and gripping drama.
Along with the darkly comic story of a middle-aged man and a potentially orphaned young girl crossing states and scamming other people to pay their way, there are more serious sides to the story that make it a gripping watch too.
The main appeal of Paper Moon is certainly its sharp sense of humour, but it also provides a vivid portrayal of Depression-era America, not only through its black-and-white cinematography, but through an eye for detail and an intimate, almost passionate presentation of the real plights facing people, beyond the economic devastation of the period.
Though perhaps not quite as thematically resonant as it could be, there’s no denying that Paper Moon is an effective and engrossing blend of gripping drama and strong comedy, making it both an entertaining and engaging watch all the way through. So, that’s why I’m giving the film a 7.5 overall.