A PERFECT WORLD is set in Texas in 1963. Working from John Lee Hancock's original script, Clint Eastwood crafts a subtle and haunting work that features what is perhaps Kevin Costner's best performance. Costner plays against type as Butch Haynes, an escaped convict whose tendency toward violence is masked by his affability. Haynes escapes with a more blatantly dangerous convict, Terry Pugh, planning to ditch him as soon as they cross the border. But Pugh's lack of self-control gets them in trouble, and they take a young boy hostage. Raised by his single mother, a Jehovah's Witness, Phillip Perry (T.J. Lowther, in a heartbreakingly real performance) is fascinated by Haynes's roughneck ways, and the two form a surprisingly strong bond. Eastwood takes a supporting role as Red Garnett, the lawman who, ineptly but inevitably, is closing in on Haynes. With a woman criminologist (Laura Dern) and a trigger-happy federal agent along for the ride, Garnett chases Haynes down while keeping their shared past a secret from his team. Following WHITE HUNTER, BLACK HEART and UNFORGIVEN, A PERFECT WORLD shows Eastwood as a filmmaker at the absolute height of his creative powers. A PERFECT WORLD is one of his boldest works.
An escaped convict picks up a fatherless boy while being pursued by a relentless Texas Ranger. Remembering his own neglected childhood, he acts as a surrogate father to the boy; the ranger sees him as a kidnapper.
Theatrical release: November 24, 1993. The film was shot on location in Austin and central Texas. Screenwriter John Lee Hancock also wrote the script for Eastwood's film version of MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL. Clint Eastwood cowrote the song "Big Fran's Baby," which is featured on the soundtrack. The film made slightly more than $30 million at the U.S. box office but raked in more than $100 worldwide. While Eastwood got a great performance from Kevin Costner, their working relationship was not always friendly. At one point, Eastwood has said, Costner walked off the set, and Eastwood threatened to shoot the rest of the film with his stand-in.
"...Quietly devastating....A deeply felt, deceptively simple film that marks the high point of Mr. Eastwood's directing career..." - 11/24/1993 New York Times, p.C11
"Star Kevin Costner and director Clint Eastwood deliver lean, finely chiseled work in A PERFECT WORLD, a somber, subtly nuanced study..." - 11/29/1993 Variety
"...Costner is warm and appealing..." - 12/03/1993 Entertainment Weekly, p.44-5
"...This is a movie that surprises you....The screenplay by John Lee Hancock goes deep. And the direction by Clint Eastwood finds strange, quiet moments of perfect truth in the story..." - 11/24/1993 Chicago Sun-Times, p.38