Kansas is an odd place. Maybe it’s because I grew up there, but I struggle to think of another place that I absolutely love and am immensely frustrated with in equal measures. Even though I know it really shouldn’t/doesn’t matter, it always used to bother me that I didn’t know of any films that were truly “Kansas films.” Weirdly enough, that seemed to add to my frustration—some sense of being perpetually unseen (or rather, intentionally passed over).
Early in my freshman year of high school, my best friend told me about Paper Moon. I’d never heard anything about it. She said two things: “it was shot half an hour from here” and “I promise you’ll love everything about it.” I had no idea how right she was.
Immediately after the film finished, we got into her car and drove to the same road the final chase scene takes place on. We drove up and down the road and yelled out any quotes we could remember. We parked by the river and talked about what kinds of movies we’d want to make or where we wanted to go after high school.
I don’t know if I can exactly explain why Paper Moon is so important to me. There’s an indescribable feeling that I get when watching it. Something akin to homesickness with a bit of wish fulfillment? I’ve always wanted driving through Kansas to give me the same feeling that I get when I watch Paper Moon. Of course, this rarely happens. However, I can’t deny that anytime I watch (or even think about) Paper Moon when I’m not in Kansas, I get the strongest sense of homesickness.
Of course, I don’t mean to say that Paper Moon is only special if you’re from Kansas. The film can firmly stand on its own as the classic it is. Truly, I think everyone can find something to enjoy in Paper Moon.
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