Our Paradise Movie Review

Gifted French filmmaker Morel explores fairly dark themes in his films, refusing to make things easy for his characters. And this strikingly involving film is no exception, following a relationship that starts out rather bleakly and gets increasingly unnerving.

At age 30, Vassili (Rideau) works the streets in Paris but finds that his clients are getting older. So he starts quietly killing them. When he rescues 20-ish Angelo (Durdaine) after an attack, the two start to fall for each other even as they continue pulling tricks. And although Angelo asks him to stop, Vassili continues murdering their johns. So they leave the city to see Vassili's friend Anna (Dalle)and her young son (Morisset). Together they head to an idyllic mountain cabin to visit Vassili's mentor Victor (Flamand), where Vassili has a terrible idea.

As usual, Morel is exploring generational issues of masculinity, and the film's final act features men aged around 60, 30, 20 and 10 interacting in increasingly eerie ways. Especially as the intentions of each character become clear. Indeed, the film's creepy sensibility is often overwhelming since, aside from the killing spree, Vassili is a pretty nice guy and his relationship with Angelo is actually rather sweet.

Rideau gets the balance just right between Vassili's light and dark sides, catching us off guard with a flick of the eyes. And we can't quite understand why he finds it so difficult to leave the violence behind. But the "paradise" of Victor's home and the happiness of his romance with Angelo are just too much for him to resist. Opposite him, Durdaine is like an innocent who simply refuses to see the truth.

The surrounding cast is also very strong, although Issolah (as Victor's long-term partner) plays a slightly one-note character who takes huge exception to Vassili from the moment they meet. There might be some history here, but the script never fills in this gap in the character, which leaves him as the villain of the piece even if he's truly the only voice of reason. The plot's table-turning is so well-handled by Morel that we barely see it happening. And as a result, the film's final scenes are seriously haunting.

Cast & Crew

Director : Gael Morel

Producer :

Starring : Stephane Rideau, Dimitri Durdaine, , , Raymonde Bronstein, Malik Issolah, Mathis Morisset, Jean-Christophe Bouvet

Comments

Our Paradise Rating

" Good "

Rating: 18, 2011

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