Movie Talk with Jake Salinas

REVIEW: “PARADOX” is a Meandering and Pointless Film (SXSW 2018)


The best part of Paradox, Daryl Hannah‘s confused and meandering experimental “western”, is the soundtrack by Neil Young, her boyfriend and the star of this film. Young has continued to make some of the most interesting work of his career, and his career got revived in a big way thanks to his collaborations with Lukas Nelson (Willie’s kid) and his band Promise of the Real. This film (if you can call it that) features songs from a forthcoming soundtrack/album accompanying the film that sounds like it has a lot of potential. I can’t say the same for the film that this new Young music is accompanying. As Rebecca Batlan pointed out to me after the film, “Soundtrack: buy! Film: bye.”

There really isn’t much of a plot to Paradox. But from what I could get of a plot, it involves Lukas Nelson and members of his band playing dress-up as cowboys somewhere in the southwestern United States (New Mexico maybe?), with Neil Young sitting around playing his guitar from time to time. It then cuts back and forth between concert footage of Young and the band and the cowboy dress-up. That’s literally the entire film.

Watching the film, you wonder if it was just an excuse for Young, Hannah, Nelson and company to go hang out in New Mexico, do some drugs, and make a movie out of the experience. Because that’s what the film feels like at times, because there doesn’t really seem to be a point or a reason behind why this film exists. The film starts to intercut to some sequences of Young playing with the band either in the mountains or from their set at Desert Trip back in 2015. Those sequences are pretty neat, but they’re just a reminder of far better Neil Young concert films (most of them directed by the late-great Jonathan Demme) out there and you’d be better suited watching those instead of this film (it should be noted that Paradox will debut on Netflix next week, if you feel like wasting 70 minutes of your life).

There really isn’t more I need to say about this film mainly because it wasn’t really much of a film, just a waste of time disguised as an “experimental arthouse western”, or whatever the hell it was. With that being said, I’ll be buying the soundtrack to this film when it’s released next week. And like I said, if you’re a huge Neil Young fan and you feel like you have to see this film, you’d honestly be better suited watching Demme’s far more entertaining and beautifully made concert films on Young. Trust me.


Final Rating: