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Neil Young in a scene from the film Paradox, available March 23 on Netflix.2/Netfilix

Billed as a “fantasy, a loud poem and a free-spirited tale of music and love,” Paradox, out now on Netflix, is a surreal, low-budget confounder of a Western, starring music legend Neil Young and written and directed by his partner, actress Daryl Hannah. Although Hannah has described the impressionistic film as “lighthearted” in interviews, she told The Globe and Mail this week that the adjective was not meant to be dismissive.

“People, especially now, are conditioned to look for a very specific A-to-B plot line,” she explained in a phone interview. “This film is very different. I just wanted to prepare people to go with the dream and to liberate themselves from those expectations.”

Given that the rough-cut art-house special is not simple to understand, here are 10 helpful nuggets of information for those adventurous enough to dial up Paradox for a look.

1) Paradox marks Hannah’s debut as a feature filmmaker, but the Splash actress has collaborated with Young before. She directed the televised version of Young’s intimate hometown solo acoustic concert this past December from Coronation Hall in Omemee, Ont. “I loved it up there,” Hannah told The Globe.

2) Although Young is notoriously meticulous and hard-headed, the musician was surprisingly easy to direct, according to Hannah. “I have to say he was very co-operative. He definitely has a cantankerous streak. But he’s made lots of movies himself, so he knows the process. He was helpful.”

3) Willie Nelson narrates and has a cameo in the film, but that’s not him crooning his song Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground during a campfire singalong scene. It’s actually his son Lukas Nelson, a member (with brother Micah Nelson) of Young’s backing band Promise of the Real. “It was a surprise to us,” said Hannah. “We didn’t know they were going to play that song.” Lukas, who is the Promise of the Real’s bandleader, sounds incredibly (and beautifully) like his father.

4) Those aren’t llamas in the film – they’re alpacas, and, no, Young doesn’t ride them. Unlike the other 17 species of birds, mammals and insects listed at the end of the film, the alpacas are not mentioned. “They should have been credited,” apologized Hannah.

5) Filming locations include the Montrose County Historical Museum in Colorado, a ghost town, a farm in Malibu, Calif., Colorado’s Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Luck, Texas, an old western town built in 1986 on Willie Nelson’s ranch for the filming of Red Headed Stranger.

6) Young, 72, plays The Man in the Black Hat, a taciturn, gun-holstering horse rider who robs banks – seed banks. “Neil, the band members and the crewmen all play caricatures of themselves,” said Hannah. “They’re versions of how they’re seen by others, more than how they really are.”

7) The film carries messages of feminism and Mother Earth environmentalism, while revisiting the themes of Young’s 2015 protest album against corporate agribusiness, The Monsanto Years.

8) In addition to directing the film, Hannah wrote it as well. A typical bon mot? “Love is like a fart: If you gotta force it, it’s probably [excrement].” The line is delivered during a ruminative moment in a two-seat outhouse. “It’s a little comic relief,” says Hannah. “Some old cowboy humour.”

9) A soundtrack of original music from the film is also available, via Reprise. Songs include Peace Trail (performed in a revival tent), Cowgirl Jam (from 2016’s Desert Trip festival in Indio, Calif.) and the ukulele-strummed Tumbleweed, which plays over the closing credits.

10) During some of the music scenes, people are shown tethered to things by rope, lest they float way. It’s a representation of the spirit-raising properties of art, in general, and music, specifically. “The effect Neil has on his fans, and even other musicians, is pretty intense,” explains Hannah. “He’s fully immersed in every second of every note. He isn’t manipulating it; he’s flowing with it. It’s where other musicians aspire to be, and sometimes they get there. But he seems to be there all the time.”

Paradox starts streaming March 23 on Netflix

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