Paradise Screen 6 articles

Paradise

2016

Paradise Poster
  • While the film is dedicated to the Russian émigrés who saved Jewish children in France, Paradise’s main character is the Nazi who is presented in a very Russian manner: an elegant, intelligent, yet ruthless man who believes with all his heart in the sanctity and justness of his cause; a man who also at one point confesses his admiration for Stalin and Communism. Politically speaking, this is all rather disagreeable if not outright despicable.

  • A film not without ideas, most intriguing being the decision to depict events partly from the point of view of a charming fanatic of the Nazi cause, who nevertheless comes to see that the Hitlerian utopia is a corrupt sham. However, the central theme of paradise is harped on so repetitively in the often prolix dialogue that it finally comes to mean very little.

  • Visions of heaven bedevil the romantically tormented protagonists of Andrei Konchalovsky's Paradise (Rai), a somber and ambitious tale of love and loss set during Europe's most hellish mid-century days. But strong performances and outstanding cinematography aren't enough to rescue an unfocused and episodic screenplay, which will leave many stranded in a purgatorial cinematic-halfway house between bliss and despair.

  • Konchalovsky’s lack of sentimentality and textured staging forge a lucid vision of a nightmare. Jules and Helmut initially enjoy their coffee and women because they’ve found a way not to empathize with the people who’re suffering under the tendrils of a machine so operatic in its madness as to be oxymoronically invisible.

  • Konchalovsky frequently interrupts the story of this 2016 feature so characters can address the camera, confronting their innermost feelings and defending their actions, in passages that recall some of the 1960s films of Ingmar Bergman. Black-and-white cinematography and minimalist sound design contribute to the bleak, austere tone, which befits the theme of survival in a morally bankrupt world.

  • It’s Simonov’s ink-and-porcelain imagery that is the headline star here, not inordinately beautifying the horrors on display but granting them the visual severity and serenity that they deserve. Konchalovsky and Simonov also deftly exploit the limitations of the Academy ratio throughout, boxing even its unimprisoned characters into the frame as a constant, underlying reminder that no one is leaving this living nightmare entirely free.

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