Paradise: Love Screen 24 articles

Paradise: Love


Paradise: Love Poster
  • Seidl sternly rejects nuance. All the women are crude and insensitive, all the men are desperate and exploited. Despite copious full-frontal nudity, it’s an unrelievedly puritanical and didactic film.

  • In Kenya, [a] female UK correspondent had apparently [tweeted], “It made me ashamed to be European.” That analysis, even at fewer than 140 characters, may not have been the most sophisticated, but the film itself was hardly more complex. Vienna-based Seidl, an equal-opportunity misanthrope known for documentary-fiction hybrids that he has likened to “staged reality,” explores the not especially original question of who is exploiting whom.

  • [Tiesel's character's] casual, thoughtless racism delivers exactly what you’d expect from Seidl, whose films (Dog Days, Import Export) have always displayed a penchant for methodical cruelty. And watching her try to find a young man who’s more interested in her than in her pocketbook is like seeing the Nigerian Scam dramatized over and over again, with only the most negligible of variations.

  • The use of duration to maximize queasiness gives the film a certain structural integrity. But almost inevitably for a film whose first agenda is button-pushing, Paradise: Love ends up simplifying its characters to bolster its provocation, ultimately indulging in the same sort of racial stereotyping it means to decry. And while it's arguably a dark comedy, the movie has an off-putting smugness—as if Seidl thinks he's somehow acknowledging heretofore undiscovered social realities...

  • Something this one-note and obvious probably doesn't need so many permutations in its depraved daisy chain, but I still admired the lengths the film is willing to go to expose hypocrisy. Siedel's documentary background still is paying major dividends although it's also noteworthy that the performance he gets out of Tiesel, who isn't a non-professional, is nuanced and challenging.

  • The commodified, off-brand version of sex peddled here is the equivalent of the junk jewelry that’s being sold outside the cordoned-off section of the resort beach, just as Siedl’s film is a junk jewelry version of a movie that actively engages this complicated issue without resorting to sneering derision of all parties involved.

  • Paradise: Love is surprisingly less nuanced, even if less dramatic, than Cantet's film, as it often seems more intent on spelling out its awareness of the politics involved than in lingering on the aching human engaged in the libidinal transactions. The dialogue sometimes rings forced (one white woman says, "The locals like everything that's natural and untamed"), and the narrative too episodic, even rushed in its desire to establish its point.

  • Paradise: Love contrasts rigidly formal fixed-camera establishing shots of Teresa in Austria with handheld camerawork showing her at the resort, depicting the frenzy of urban Kenya as much as Teresa’s state of mind. (The static compositions’ absolute symmetry is unnatural, almost absurd; the shots sometimes resemble unwitting parodies of a Thomas Struth photograph.) At times, the formalism is consonant with the narrative content, other times considerably less so.

  • Paradise: Love is Seidl’s most straightforward comedy, which, more so than Hong, makes sublime use of the foreign tourist’s quandary that in the Third World the locals are simply out to exploit the visitors, who they see as cash cows, figuratively and literally.

  • Its worldview is undeniably bleaker than anything offered up by, say, the Dardennes or the Romanian naturalists. It's one of total supply and demand, cross-cultural exploitation, with no possibility of connection outside of commodification.

  • Tiesel keeps Teresa’s motivations courageously opaque throughout: after losing her nerve during her first encounter with one of her resort’s infinite escorts, she continues to seek it with one unhappy, money-draining tryst after another. It’s her doomed, obtuse, are-we-having-fun-yet gumption that lends a sincere note of heartbreak to Seidl’s otherwise exquisitely austere, calculatedly claustrophobic construction.

  • The difficulty with the film is not that these two tendencies are somehow incompatible. In fact, Paradise: Love is a relatively successful film in many respects. The problem is that Seidl's method requires that the film inculcate empathy for both sides of its political equation (colonial tourist / colonized, resistant subject) even as they both engage in patently reprehensible behavior.

  • Racial clichés are celebrated in exuberant and discomforting ways, as when a bartender's complexion is described to be "as shiny as bacon rind." But that gaze turns both ways, and what once seemed like a bit of giddy satire on cultural stereotypes (overweight, middle-aged sex tourists getting their groove back) turns into an intimate commentary on the ugliness of economic disparity.

  • It's surprising how innocent much of Paradise: Love feels. Seidl's meticulous compositions have always reminded me a bit of Buster Keaton's, and here, he comes closer to G-rated comedy than I ever expected him to.

  • Both an overview of European neo-colonialism (in macro) and a woman floating through this environment with, ultimately, touchingly sad myopia; the film's depiction of Teresa's arc seems both tough-minded and plausibly fair, even if Seidl still seems to enjoy attenuating the more unpleasant sequences (naked beach boy stripper and the contest to give him an erection) far beyond the length necessary to make his point.

  • The opening giggle of Seidl’s trilogy—Teresa’s own summertime scarlet letter—makes for a lapsed vision of love; the splintered logic of the route from Love’s laughter to a screaming Faith means ending with the tiresome, breathless Hope for a paradise that may not exist at all. In Seidl’s sometimes beautiful, beguiling hall of walls and windows—not a mirror in sight—one hopes with whispers.

  • Seidl gives every shot a meticulous sense of balance, making the graphic imagery and scathing subtext all the more disturbing when juxtaposed with the beautiful beach setting.

  • Paradise: Love is not after synthesis: Seidl's story is smooth but the intrusion on the world he has chosen to explore (or burden his film with) does nothing less than confront that difficult line, a formal strategy that pulses out into the surrounding story material as this sense of discovery and confrontation, re-activating the expected and electrifying it.

  • In a superbly sustained and staged closing sequence when the corpulent gals try play a contest to see who can get one of the “Negroes” (as the subtitles... astonishingly state) to get it up first. The sequence encapsulates Seidl’s challenge to his audience, which is to make sense of women turning men into their playthings and performing as the sexually dominant partner, yet at the same time acknowledging that these women are playing out the age-old roles of European occupier of African space...

  • Words like 'freakshow' and 'grotesque' could apply from the opening scene (mentally handicapped people in bumper cars) yet there's also a residual sympathy, Seidl's wide-angle compositions giving the sense of tiny people navigating labyrinthine landscapes; heroine's gradual realisation of the utterly mercantile nature of this 'paradise' is potent... and the final shot is impressive indeed.

  • The importance of Tiesel’s performance here can’t be overstated, and even during what is easily the most excruciating birthday-party scene involving cock ribbons ever, the actor lends an incredibly profound sense of sorrow to the film’s pitilessness. Love is the first part of a trilogy, the other entries being Faith and Hope; it’s a tribute to Tiesel's ray of humanity that this chapter underlines its subtitle while still getting its unflinching message across.

  • Seidl's unblinking perspective can seem cruel... but this is Seidl at his most powerful and humane, in a Diane Arbus kind of way, bringing us intimately close to characters movies otherwise exclude... Seidl's unblinking perspective can seem cruel—Tiesel and the rest of the film's lunging Euro Moms have no secrets from us—but this is Seidl at his most powerful and humane, in a Diane Arbus kind of way, bringing us intimately close to characters movies otherwise exclude.

  • Seidl forces us to stare prejudice and venality directly in the eye (as Teresa constantly demands of her love interests during foreplay) and know that while human beings walk this Earth, it will never go away. Some of the visual metaphors are extremely blunt – ravenous crocodiles at feeding time, a beach segregated by race and class – but they all intricately executed.

  • While in this scene [where the women fail to arouse the young local man], Teresa explores and exploits the limits of her control, her sexual commands are subsequently rejected by a young waiter she previously ridiculed with her friend, leaving her with a sense of shame and disillusionment, sentiments of powerlessness ruthlessly framed within an economy of exploitation.

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